This is a guest article about autism written by Jill:

It has been bothering me about how to approach the subject of Autism on holiday and it was while leafing through my latest copy of the National Autistic Society Magazine that inspiration struck.

If we learned the appropriate language response for saying “My child is not naughty, they have Autism” or similar our life would probably be a lot more simple when planning holidays.

How can we be expected to cope with other holiday makers staring at our children and local people tut-tutting us when our kids have a meltdown due to their routines being disturbed or the feel of sand in their toes?

So while planning a trip abroad with your ASD child in mind what should you consider?

  • Perhaps learning a few ASD phrases
  • Planning out the right type of accommodation that suits your child
  • Forgetting the idea of a relaxing holiday and planning activities and putting in a holiday routine
  • Having somewhere quiet for your child to feel safe in to do his/her special ‘stimming’ behaviours
  • Taking plenty of your child favourite toys or DVD’s and a travel DVD player

These are essentials in travel and can make the difference to your child’s behaviour and to the general holiday experience.

Lanzarote offers the ASD traveller many options when it comes to accommodation. There are disabled friendly hotels and apartments, small hotels and apartments that are child friendly and yet quiet, there are action packed hotels and apartments that offer constant entertainment and food. There is definitely something to suit your needs.

Restaurants are always extremely welcoming and happy to help with food options. Baring in mind the usually restricted diets of ASD children there is always the option of chicken and chips, chicken nuggets and even a McDonalds! Some restaurants are now offering gluten free food, and as a fellow lactose intolerant I can guarantee there are many suitable meals to be found. In fact I love travelling to Lanzarote as I can eat out in most places!

The supermarkets are fabulous and most of the larger ones offer soya products or lactose free products and have a great selection of gluten free cakes and bakes. If all else fails the Pharmacies are usually very good options for finding gf/cf foods.

So here are a few little Spanish phrases that may help you on your holiday

No butter – sin mantequilla

No dairy – sin productos lácteos por favour

No milk – sin leche

No cheese – sin queso

No gluten – sin gluten

No wheat – sin trigo

My child is autistic – mi hijo es autista

My son is not naughty, he is autistic – mi hijo no es malo, es autista

My daughter is not naughty, she is autistic – mi hija no es malo, que es autista

Perhaps the most used phrase would be…

I’m sorry, my child is autistic – lo siento mi hijo es autisto.

I think the last phrase would be the most often used – in cases of going in restaurants, shops and even in the hotel and apartments.

However, also research the other nationalities of travellers who may be in the area too. For example if there are a lot of German tourists staying within the same complex, it may be worthwhile knowing the odd German phrase too.

My son is not being naughty. He is a child with autism. Please show some understanding.

“Mein sohn ist nicht frech. Er hat autismus. Bitte zeigen Sie etwas verstandnis und mitgefuhl”

My daughter is not being naughty. She is a child with autism. Please show some understanding.

“Meine tochter is nicht frech. Sie hat autismus. Bitte zeigen sie etwas vertandnis und mitgefuhl.”

National Autistic Magazine March 2012 (Pg 43)

Covering as much information as possible before going on holiday may sound daunting, but in the long run may pay dividends.

Happy Holidays!

More reading: Gluten free eating in Lanzarote.