Our guide to Autism friendly holidays
These days, there are a growing number of specialist companies providing high quality holiday breaks for people with autism, and other developmental conditions.
Having a developmental disability does not mean that life is all doom and gloom!
People with Autism or learning disabilities should still have the opportunity to get involved in activities that are inspiring and enjoyable. There are however, a few extra challenges for some of us in this category, so finding a holiday destination that will be responsive to your needs is very important.
Some things to consider are:
- Will the holiday be a good match for your particular needs?
- Do the staff have experience of speaking to people with communication difficulties?
- Are there quiet areas, to relax in?
- Is there generally, a low arousal atmosphere in the hotel?
Companies such as GO PROVENCE and DOOR TO DOOR HOLIDAYS offer a range of exciting, supported activity breaks for people with autism and learning disabilities. Both companies are passionate about giving people with autism and learning disabilities, a chance to have a memorable holiday experience whilst learning new skills, meeting new friends and building confidence.
"We are a supported holiday company that specialises in a door to door holiday service for adults with learning disabilities. As our name suggests, we pick you up from your place of residence and drop you back again at the end of your holiday, so you don't have to worry about a thing."
"Our supported holidays are all carefully planned to give you the best experience in a completely safe environment."
Ian from GO PROVENCE shared some great information with us at Adults With Autism.org.uk:
What are the challenges faced by families affected by disability when choosing a holiday destination?
"There are many challenges for a family choosing a holiday, but the challenges depend on the support that the family member needs. Getting to the destination can be a hurdle. If you take a flight for example, you have to fight through the crowds, get through security, get onto the aeroplane and then getting to the accommodation. This can be a big day with loads of challenges for the family. Plus you have to factor in any delays or cancellations of flights that often happen. Then you have the prospect of the same again at the end of the holiday, getting back home."
If your family member has a physical disability/a wheelchair user then the accommodation must be adapted to suit the person’s needs, this can often be more expensive to reserve."
"If your family member has a physical disability/a wheelchair user then the accommodation must be adapted to suit the person’s needs, this can often be more expensive to reserve. The challenges faced by families often mean that choices of destinations and travel are greatly reduced and more expensive."
"No not at all, especially abroad. In my experience, when trying to reserve French gites (French holiday home) for wheelchair users, on gite websites I see the French Wheelchair ‘Friendly’ logo, and then when I go and check the gite out, it is not suitable at all. It may have a ramp going up into the front door and that is it. According to the French that is Wheelchair friendly. If you are booking abroad you cannot go and check the accommodation out before hand so you have to search for accommodation that has loads of feedback from wheelchair users. Alternatively you can go through a disability travel specialist who will have a list of suppliers and recommended accommodation, but you have to pay for this service."
Do you feel that holiday choices for people with a disability have increased over the years?
"Yes I do. There is a massive untapped market from the perspective of the travel and tourism market for disability travel. Countries like the UK, USA and Australia have great resources for people with disabilities who wish to holiday there. I have noticed that over 7 years the holiday makers that we attract have changed. The majority of our holiday makers are people with learning disabilities, learning difficulties or experience autism. We attract a lot of younger people who have come through mainstream schools and want the same experiences as their peers. For example, a holiday makers brother spent months trekking in the Himalayas, and he wanted the same kind of trip. We have a supported trekking holiday in Provence which was perfect for him. Our holidays themes are suitable for anyone, and that’s the appeal to some people who need support on their holidays. We do not do cliched disability holidays at Disneyland or Harry Potter world."
"Yes, most British airports and airlines offer Special Assistance which you can reserve when you book your flight. I recommend that families contact the airport and speak with special assistance well in advance, so they can give you the support you need. There are also plenty of holiday companies who can support people on their holidays."
"I would prepare your holiday as early as you can. Join forums for families who are in a similar situation and ask questions about other peoples experiences and recommendations. Find out if you are entitled to any funding. I would also say, that it is very important that the family gets a holiday as well apart from the person that they care for. We have many families who come down on holiday to us with their family member with a disability, they have a h oliday nearby and we support the person they care for to have a holiday with us. It works well, as the family are not too far away for peace of mind on both sides."