Flying with a child with Autism

When traveling with an autistic child, there is a ton of factors and steps to take. Therefore, many families choose to drive so they have more control over the situation. For some trips flying, is the better or only option. So, what is a parent to do? Looking for autism friendly flights can seem like an overwhelming task and making the flight more predictable can be hard if you’ve also never flown before! In this guide, we are going to go over some great ways to make flying with a child with autism easier.

First Steps to Flying with an Autistic Child

When it comes to making the unknown more predictable, it’s all about planning! Start preparing your child for the trip two-three weeks in advance. This way you can practice “what if” scenarios, read social stories about air travel, or even learn more about the planes themselves.

Making the flight less of an “unknown” situation will take a lot of their anxiety away. This will help your child create a dialogue and be more willing to ask questions.

Traveling on a plane can be difficult for autistic children & it can be completely overwhelming! Check out these tips for flying with a child with autism.  #travelingwithautism #traveltips #autismsupport #autismacceptance #WingsforAutism

It all starts before you walk in the door, Parking!

When it comes to flying with a child with autism, parking garages can be a nightmare! Here’s a cardinal rule of most flight hubs – the larger the airport, the more difficult it’ll be to find a parking spot close to your terminal.

Low ceilings, tons of cars, echoing voices and cars sound, all quickly equal up to sensory overload. In order to help reduce the risk of a meltdown, a great option is using a valet service.

Valet services are great because they will pick your car up from the terminal, allowing you head straight for the check-in desk. Looking for a valet service at a US airport? Check out valet service.


One things that makes things so much easier for autistic children is the use of visual schedules. By having pictures of what will happen, children can see what will happen and when. These are really easy to make by just printing up pictures of each spot.

For older children, using an written schedule can work well to. Just knowing what comes next will make flying with an autistic child easier!

All About Timing

Though you can’t always pick an ideal flight time, it is best to choose one that your child will be less tired during. Taking a child who is exhausted into a busy airport isn’t ideal and can lead to meltdowns.

When flying with a child with autism, make sure to give yourself enough time. Arriving 30 minutes earlier than you normally allows for hiccups along the way.

Special Programs for Autistic Children

Flying with a child with autism is becoming slightly easier. Airports are becoming more accommodating to autistic individuals. Many airports offer Autism Trained Specialists to work with your family.

The major founder of these types of programs is The Arc- Wings for Autism Program. These “airport rehearsals” allow for walk throughs in advance, so your child can become familiar with the airport, procedures, and staff.

On the Flight

Having some tiny activities in your carry-on bag can make the trip so much more bearable. These can be a favored toy, coloring pages, a book or even sensory tools.

Another big thing that can affect how flying with a child with autism goes is seating. If you’re child prefers a certain seat, this would be an expense that would be well worth it.

After The Flight- Trip Planning

When it comes to planning a trip, its hard to know what places will work best for your child’s needs. That’s why we love the folks of at Autism on The Go. They help you find locations that are autism friendly to make your whole trip much more enjoyable.

Traveling with an Autistic Child

When it Comes to flying with a child with Autism, its all about planning. Make sure to reach out your airport to see what services they offer. Have other traveling tips? Let us know in the comments below!

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