Public outings can be stressful for everyone, and especially for families with kids with special needs. Here are some ideas from other parents to make those situations easier:

Prepare your child. Give your child as much advance notice as possible. Let him know what to expect. You can do this by:

  • showing pictures of where you’re going and some specific things you’ll be doing.
  • repeating the information several times—just before setting off, on the way, and on arrival.
  • making a schedule using simple pictures (for instance, a suitcase, car, Grandma’s house, cousins, dinner, and home again).
  • Pack a favorite object. Like many children, your child might have a much-loved toy or blanket. Take it along to soothe and comfort her.
  • Do some research. Many places have special passes for children with autism or other special needs. Call ahead to find out how the place might meet your child’s needs. If possible, look for quiet places where your child can go to calm down and recharge. By doing these things you can all stay longer—and have more fun!
  • Plan an easy exit. In an event at which you’ll be seated, plan to be on an aisle, in the back, or somewhere you can leave quickly if your child needs a break or must leave early. If you’re driving, park as close as possible to the entrance. Some parents recommend leaving when problems first arise, so that you can end on a fairly good note.