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Family Travel for Special Needs Children

Matt Villano

I was blown away by an article about autism and air travel in this past Sunday’s Travel section of The New York Times.

The piece, written by FLOTUS biographer Rachel Swarns, paints a very realistic picture about the pros and cons of traveling with children who have been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder.

On the plus side, the story notes that airlines (and the TSA) are doing more to help families of children with special needs prepare for the experience of flying. On the negative side, it notes that problems can arise when other passengers are not sensitive to the fact that the child in question has special needs.

The article (and associated reader input) got me thinking—what special resources exist for family travelers with kids on the spectrum? So I started hunting.

Without question, the best site I found was this one, from Autism Speaks. The site catalogs articles, other resources and information about regulations. It appears to be updated relatively regularly.

I also was impressed by this guide, curated by Philadelphia International Airport and designed to be read to children on the spectrum to help them prepare for a flight.

Even the TSA has compiled a helpful page on the subject.

There are other resources out there, wonderful blogs with touching and honest stories of families who refuse to let autism get in the way of adventure. Some of my favorites include:

Finally, of course, are the general resources. Before this gig, I contributed to an informative website called AbilityPath, which I recommend highly (and which has done some great service-oriented travel stories, like this one). Another good option: the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (which has a great blog).

Did I forget a good resource? Do you have anything to add? If so, please leave a comment below. Thank you!

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