Theme parks created as places of fun and entertainment for the whole family can present potentially dangerous situations for visitors with autism. Here are our top safety tips to help you and your autistic child enjoy your theme park experience and avoid trouble.
Tips for Preventing Your Child with Autism from Getting Lost
- Always dress your child in bold and bright colors that stand out in the crowd.
- Take a picture of your child before you leave the house. This can help you remember what your child was wearing in case you need to share a recent picture with the park staff.
- If your child is nonverbal, consider using a temporary tattoo with the child’s information or downloading a picture app like TalkRocketGo on their cell phone to enable them to ask for assistance with directions.
- Add a GPS app like Life360 on your child’s cell phone to help pinpoint your child’s whereabouts in the park.
- Decide on a meeting spot everyone can return to in case someone gets lost or there is any other emergency before entering the park. Have everyone photograph the place with their cell phone so they can remember it and ask for help to find it if necessary.
Avoid Problematic Clothing and Weather-Related Mishaps
- Photo credit: Margalit Sturm Francus
- Do not let your kid wear baggy or loose fitting clothes, or any items with strings that can get entangled in seats or ride equipment.
- Discourage your kid from wearing ill-fitting shoes like clogs or flip-flops that can cause them to trip and can drop off during a ride, making it a danger for anyone seated beneath them.
- Remove hats and glasses of young riders before they go on rides to avoid the possibility of the items getting lost or damaged.
- If your child is sensitive to certain smells, look for an unscented sunscreen and insect repellent to use during your visit.
- Bring a water bottle along and have your child drink at regular intervals to prevent dehydration, especially on very hot days.
Explain the Theme Park Rides in Advance
- Since many newer rides have sensory components like upside down rotation, water splashing, and strobe lighting it is important to explain (with YouTube videos) the different rides to your kid at home to prevent him or her from becoming overwhelmed and experience a meltdown during the park visit.
Help Your Child with Autism Become Proactive
- Have your kid practice checking his seat belt (on the ride) to make sure it is firmly buckled so he can alert a staff member if it is not properly closed in the theme park.
- Reiterate to your kid that wearing the seat belts for the complete duration of the ride and using the proper entrance and exit to the ride are important regulations that must be followed.
- Remind your kids that they should never stick out their hands or feet during a ride to try and touch anything, no matter how tempting the item may be.
- Discourage your kid from kicking the seat in front of them, running (many areas can be wet and slippery) and climbing walls, fences, or set barriers.