For a lot of neurodivergent adults and households, planning for a vacation requires completely different approaches relying on people’ wants and strengths.

Whereas a lot has been made from the potential for overwhelm within the face of enormous queues and crowded areas in locations like Dublin Airport, such consideration begins early within the vacation planning course of.

Claire O’Neill, head of coaching at neurodivergence non-profit Thriving Autistic, is a neurodivergent grownup and a father or mother of neurodivergent youngsters.

She encourages constructing upon certainty and familiarity, centring upcoming plans across the household’s collective and particular person pursuits.

Claire O'Neill, Head of Training, ThrivingAutistic
Claire O’Neill, Head of Coaching, ThrivingAutistic

When planning travelling, ‘similar’ is nice, says O’Neill.

“In the event you’ve skilled success with a earlier vacation or journey expertise, it’s OK to copy it, and each expertise doesn’t should be a model new, distinctive expertise. Even when you go to the identical place, there will probably be completely different recollections and experiences in that. So constructing on earlier success is essential.

“We went on a household vacation to Tenerife, which wouldn’t be my cup of tea. I’m not a fan of the solar, however I really like swimming. In that vacation, we simply factored in that all of us bought time to get pleasure from our pursuits and our strengths. My son can be very focused on rocks and minerals, and there are beautiful caves and cactus gardens there, so a spot that may appear very ‘bundle vacation’ can actually communicate to individuals.”

Scrapbooking can be an engaging creative tool for planning, experiencing and sharing a holiday
Scrapbooking will be an attractive artistic device for planning, experiencing and sharing a vacation

Visible and psychological preparation for brand new locations

Within the months, weeks and days coming as much as a significant vacation, opening up communication in regards to the preparations, journey, and eventual arrival can significantly assist set up and reaffirm familiarity.

It’s particularly the case when discussing new experiences, like arriving at an airport or ferry port for the primary time, or new sensations, like flight-related ‘ear-popping’.

“I believe an enormous a part of the enjoyment of a vacation is the buildup to it and speaking about it,” says O’Neill.

Within the run-up to the vacation, she suggests mother and father ask questions akin to: ‘What are you trying ahead to?’ and ‘What are you anxious about?’ ‘What do you suppose you may discover troublesome?’.

“Regardless of how a lot you’re keen on travelling, I believe virtually everybody will discover a side of travelling troublesome. It might be that it’s noise, it might be that they’re anxious about journey illness.

“Then [it’s a matter of] constructing in certainty, being as factual as you possibly can, and never dismissing fears, considerations, or earlier difficulties with planning is essential.”

A giant a part of constructing certainty, and interesting relations on the subject of journeys or holidays, is adapting visible and written aids for relations’ necessities.

From taking a look at movies and discussing them to constructing a scrapbook of images and different cuttings, specializing in the method of familiarisation is crucial, says O’Neill.

“Visible and psychological preparation will be so essential. It’s important for some individuals, and it’s simply actually useful for others.

“It’s about interested by why your member of the family may have this — generally, these items are wanted for various causes. It might be any person that’s very anxious about travelling, so creating extra certainty in regards to the journey is perhaps to concentrate on the visible for some individuals. It is perhaps problem with government functioning, it is perhaps the organisational facets of getting by means of airports and all of the completely different checks for any person who is perhaps impatient – it’s a matter of [establishing and clarifying] the method.”

Take a collaborative attitude to preparation and packing for travel. Pic: iStock
Take a collaborative angle to preparation and packing for journey. Pic: iStock

Packing the necessities and planning for brand new places

With regards to packing for a vacation, a headstart on issues is crucial to permit for a full guidelines of necessaries to be included and packed away safely, from necessities like chargers and easy, cozy garments, all the way in which as much as any meds that is perhaps crucial, in addition to much-needed consolation objects. Preparation may help to foster certainty.

“I might be interested by operate and luxury over style, and that might be true of youngsters and adults,” says O’Neill.

“I might haven’t any disgrace in bringing older, well-washed garments as a result of if I’m travelling to a brand new place, with new experiences, I wouldn’t add to the brand new experiences. Consolation objects are important — and that is perhaps the adults in addition to youngsters. For some individuals, having their very own pillow or their very own bedwear could make an enormous distinction from the consolation and sensory perspective.”

There are also helps accessible in most Irish airports: “I do know some airports use the sunflower lanyard, which is more and more turning into a common image or signpost that there’s a incapacity or one thing like a neurodivergence pin. That’s a matter of relations’ preferences as properly as a result of some individuals will probably be very snug with that, some individuals won’t.”

Airport terminals can be a source of anxiety and sensory distress. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Airport terminals could be a supply of hysteria and sensory misery. Image: Eddie O’Hare

Managing sensory points within the atmosphere

Sustaining certainty and luxury is important for adults and youngsters alike in the case of the day of journey itself.

However it’s essential to keep in mind that all modes of transportation include sensory and experiential challenges, so maintaining communication open the place attainable and availing of transport services’ help may help.

“Understanding why airports will be such a difficult atmosphere is useful as a result of if a toddler just isn’t behaving in a method that you’d anticipate or need in an airport, it’s most probably as a result of they will’t, reasonably than they gained’t. It’s trying on the potential or the attainable causes of that,” says O’Neill.

“Airports are fabulous, in some methods, in that they’re very visually well-signposted. It’d be very arduous to get misplaced in an airport.However then you could have plenty of surprising sensory points like tannoys, and if there’s a warning, it’s a loud bell.”

Airports are primarily noisy, crowded and “visually very, very overwhelming”, she provides.

Think about using ear defenders or loop earbuds, however “I wouldn’t be attempting them on the morning you arrive, they might need to be an assist {that a} member of the family may be very used to utilizing.”

Put on essentially the most snug garments attainable and take into consideration new textures and smells.

“It’s not the morning for attempting on new suncream and having unusual smells, have the consolation toys however don’t introduce new ones except you suppose will probably be a welcome distraction, have the acquainted.”

Particularly with air journey, the journey may additionally symbolize a problem: “Two senses which might be in all probability coming into play in air journey can be interoception (the physique’s inner sensations) and vestibular (motion/steadiness).

Attempting to handle your interoception, by way of your physique temperature, and issues like that, and maintaining hydrated will assist with different sensory difficulties that is perhaps encountered in air journey.”

Communication, and familiarisation with meeting points and reception desks, can be of help with safety while on holidays
Communication, and familiarisation with assembly factors and reception desks, will be of assist with security whereas on holidays

Staying secure throughout your loved ones vacation

Arriving at a brand new vacation spot brings with it an consumption of the unfamiliar, which may current completely different challenges for people, relying on sensitivities and desires.

Holding that sense of certainty in place all through is vital for feeling secure, both when out travelling at locations and actions or staying in new or unfamiliar environment like lodges.

“Whenever you get to your location, doing a stroll round, figuring out the potential risks, and pointing them out to your youngsters; and having your few golden guidelines, like not going to the water within the pool with out an grownup,” says O’Neill.

“If in case you have a toddler that tends to wander, I believe in case you are staying in a lodge or a resort, it’s actually good to alert the reception workers.

“You usually should exit out of the entrance reception, they usually can get to know the youngsters properly. It shouldn’t come to that time, however the individual on reception might be a superb individual on your baby to get to know.

“Having a gathering level, when you do get separated — usually journeys to market days, parks will be fashionable, so having a delegated assembly level when you get misplaced is essential.

“I believe for a kid to know your cellular quantity, if that’s acceptable, to have that and to know the identify of their lodge, or the place they’re staying is actually essential, as properly.

“I want to see households planning round individuals’s pursuits and strengths and taking the entire household into consideration.”


Written by Ailín Kennedy, an ADHD Instagrammer and neurodivergence coach from Cork@ailsdhd

Forward of your journey:

  • Write an inventory within the few days earlier than you permit, with every part it’s worthwhile to journey, and every part that wants doing at residence earlier than you permit
  • Take notes in your telephone as you go in regards to the day — make word of what you employ/want in a day
  • If relevant, examine meds, and fill prescriptions if there is not sufficient for the journey
  • Verify any visible guides to your vacation spot — maps, movies, and so forth — in addition to familiarisation excursions for airports and different services

The packing guidelines:

  • Chargers for all units: telephone, toothbrush, smartwatch, shaver, laptop computer
  • Toiletries: shampoo and conditioner, physique wash, face wash, razor
  • Meds: sufficient to comply with your common prescription at some point of the journey
  • Garments: pack for the climate, attempt to pack outfits that match/will be layered to save lots of area
  • Skincare: suncream, moisturiser, make-up, cleansers, removers
  • Sensory/consolation: fidget toys, headphones/earplugs, books, video games machines, different private consolation objects
  • Identification/help: sunflower or different airport lanyards or wristbands – examine with airport OCS desk upfront (see beneath)

If travelling overseas:

  • Passport/different paperwork
  • Native foreign money exchanged, or use of digital funds, like Revolut or Google Pay
  • AC adaptor for native electrical energy shops
  • On-line check-ins for flights
  • Proof of vaccinations/unfavourable PCR take a look at/masks for airport and flight
  • Reserving info for flights and lodging – printed, if wanted
  • A visit itinerary – printed, if wanted – examine with others travelling if not sure

Earlier than you permit:

  • Verify common family jobs have been performed — bins, tidying, washing/draining boards — fewer complications whenever you get again in!
  • Verify in with trusted people relating to jobs that may want doing when you’re gone, or to obtain/maintain publish if wanted
  • Verify that every one home windows and doorways are locked earlier than heading out, verify with pals/household when you suppose you may be not sure


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