AUTISM CRUISING

Twelve months ago I was working hard to prepare the Navigator and our family for our epic trip to Great Britain. There was so much we wanted to do on this once-in-a-lifetime trip and things we wanted to see – we ended up packing in a lot into three weeks.

It ended up being an extraordinary experience for the Navigator. It added to his growth and maturity in ways that we are still seeing.

Because we went to so many places, the trip took a lot of preparation and planning so that he would have some familiarity with places we visited and things we saw.

It was a little bit exhausting and made me wonder whether it would be easier to go on a cruise for our next big vacation.

After all, we could have a lovely adventure, would only have to unpack once, only move the luggage around going to and coming back from vacation, and the sense of movement would be reduced – fewer trains, taxies, and subways.

From that perspective I wondered: What about an Autism cruise?

What is an Autism cruise? Autism on the Seas is a Autism-focused travel agency working with major cruise lines to coordinate cruises with disability-specific accommodations – think an Autism-tailored cruise within a cruise.

One recent cruiser, Kim, has nothing but positive things to say about her family’s experience with Autism on the Seas. She and her family of four, including two sons on the Autism spectrum, enjoyed a seven-day cruise from Galveston to Jamaica.

Through Autism on the Seas, the family had one of the earliest boarding times, to avoid the crowds. There was specific staff assigned to the family to guide them through the entire boarding process so that the sensory load was a minimized as possible.

The staff also facilitated respite for the family and coordinated meeting the other Autism families on the cruise and from this camaraderie and life-long relationships were born.

One of the best things Kim learned from the cruise was that it was possible to go on a family adventure like this, not require her children to force themselves into a social mold, and to be able to relax.

The family was well cared for and the inevitable issues that can face children on the Autism spectrum – sensory overload, meltdowns, etc. – were prepared for and well managed by staff, without embarrassment or social impact.

Like the Navigator Kim reports that after this adventure, her children learned and grew from the experience in positive ways.

One of my rules as an Autism Mom is “do all the things” and not to deny or deprive my son of experiences based on his Autism.

I have tried to do that by planning and developing tools to support him. With Autism on the Seas, they have done the planning and prepared the tools for me. How relaxing.

Click here to learn more about Autism on the Seas, including information on applying for financial assistance for cruise vacations.

Autism Cruising

I received no compensation for this interview article.

2 Comments

  1. I agree 100% with Kim. When we took our Autisic son and Family on our first AotS cruise it was the best vacation our family had been on in a long time. It was an amazing experience to have been part of. We Are planning another cruise in the near future with AotS. Hats off to the entire program for what they have accomplished with cruising, resort stays, and the airline familiarization. Keep up the great work.

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