Planning a vacation with an autistic child can seem daunting for parents because autistic children are sensitive to visual and auditory stimuli. In addition, they also need constant supervision. With this reality comes an emphasis on safety and security for the child. Several vacation destinations around the world make considerations for autistic children in diverse locations.
Walt Disney World Resort
Disney World makes special considerations for autistic children. Even though it is a theme park with noisy crowds and activity, the park can accommodate autistic children with some preparation. Parents must first secure a letter from a doctor explaining the child's condition and needs, then present this letter to the guest relations window at the theme park---where guest relations officers provide guest assistance cards. This card is a special pass that enables children and their parents to wait in separate, uncrowded holding facilities apart from the regular crowds and queues at most attractions, essentially bypassing most of the entrances and entering through a Fastpass line or the attraction's exit. Parents can also pick up a "Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities" at the guest relations window that lists special entrances for each attraction as well as special effects in specific attractions that might disturb autistic children.
Walt Disney World Resort World Dr. Orlando, FL 32836 407-939-6244 disneyworld.disney.go.com
Aluteva Guesthouse in Carmiel, Israel is the only resort in the world dedicated to children with autism. Managed by the Israeli Society for Autistic Children, it offers children and their families a chance to enjoy a vacation with the help of a specially trained staff. The guesthouse provides treatment, supervision and activities especially for autistic children with several facilities designed for the enjoyment of guests, including a raised pool as opposed to a ground-level pool for more safety, a fence and security gate, and a petting zoo. The facility also houses a therapy room, an indoor Gymboree, and a one-of-a-kind room called "Snoozyland" with furniture and items that stimulate the senses, such as strobe lights, puffy pillows and background music. The guesthouse is open year-round and has eight guestrooms, most equipped with two bedrooms and a living room, a shower with a bathroom, and kitchenette. Aside from taking care of the children's physical needs, such as bathing, eating and sleeping, the staff also develops activities and games as well as tours around northern Israel, focusing on the needs of autistic children.
Aluteva Guesthouse Alut- The Israel National Autism Association 1 Corazin St. Givataim, Israel 63683 (011) 97-235-718-188, ext.204 alutfriends.org
Although Autism Cruises is not a specific "vacation spot," per se, it offers vacations for family members dealing with autism via cruises to destinations such as the Bahamas, Nassau, Key West, Alaska, Bermuda, Cozumel, Mexico, Canada and New England. Autism Cruises works in collaboration with Royal Caribbean International. Families can choose from individual and group cruises, which include priority boarding and disembarking; private dining with the same wait staff for breakfast, lunch and dinner; an experienced cruise staff, professional physicians, nurses and counselors; and activities for children. Individual cruises include a dinner table for just your family, priority boarding, priority disembarkation, Autism Awareness Cards for the cruise staff, special gifts, special children's programs, and a pre-cruise questionnaire to aid the onboard children counselors.
Autism Cruises 800-516-5247 alumnicruises.org