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Good Field Trips for Autistic Kids

Where ever we go, we make sure our son can take breaks. He may just need to sit down and have his favorite snack and juice, or he may need to go out to the car and have a 5 minute drive around.

I haven't limited the places I go, but I have packed the car with comforts and sometimes limited the time. nene is right, as the kids get older, the longer and more they can tolerate. Having a positive experience is more important than the length.

We are in the same boat as ALLEGRA. Can't really go anywhere and if we try it is only for 30 minutes or less. Luckily we live in the middle of nowhere and there is nothing to do anyway!nene - We love to get out in nature for hikes, too!

We to to parks and forest preserves with paths.  The kids get some exercise, some fresh air - and meltdowns are rare...

mimom, We have learned to set our standards for outings way low!  We used to pack for the aquarium planning to spend the day, have lunch, have a snack, see the dolphin show.  Now we know we can get an hour - and maybe a snack out of them ;)  We also go with the "have a good experience and leave wanting more" theory ;)


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Anyway - We live very near Chicago - so we have done lots and lots this year - Shedd Aquarium, Brookfield Zoo, the Children's Museum (we have several in Chicagoland).  This summer we did family trips to the public pool, and I did solo trips with all three to a park district spray park.  We did Swimming Lessons (park district).  Bug has done Soccer.  Hmmm, Back to outings, sorry.

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I loved Chicago when I visited.  Cantigney (not sure if that's spelled right) was my favorite part of the trip.

Brendon's favorite place in the world to go is Wal Mart.  That's the only store he doesn't have meltdowns in.  Jacob's favorite place to go is McDonalds...not for playland...for fries.

Hey Allegra - do ya'll have the Backyardigans on television or DVDs there?  The reason I ask is that there is one DVD called Backyardigans and the Volcano Sisters which has an episode where one of the girl critters wears extremely cool round colored glasses.  They're not orange, but tinted nonetheless.

I know you say that at this point in the game Sharlet is not into going to many new places.  But it occurred to me that if she saw a character she identified with, and that character was doing interesting new things, she might buy in.

Just a thought.  The whole DVD is very melodic, and the little friends have wonderful imaginary adventures...being goddesses inside a volcano, searching for a swamp creature, and acting as do-gooder bikers (Harleys and all!).  I noticed the glasses today and thought about ya'll.

The good news is once the kidlets get a little bigger, outings get better and more varied. I have taken my kidlets to numerous things this year besides the zoo and aquarium (although we live on an island and the fun factor can be low especially since my "nt" son has an aversion to sand and jellyfish). One of the things I thought would be scary but was actually fun.. I took my kids to an art museum on one of the family days. They had lots of activities geared for kids and my kids had an amazing time. My dd also likes the Dole Pineapple maze (it makes her feel like she is in the Amazing Race); however, I am not sure if the draw is the maze or the pineapple icecream afterwards. We have also done some hiking and some botanical gardens. I find that my dd is very open now to new experiences..my son on the otherhand.

We don't really limit where we go, except if it involves big crowds and/or motor noises.  We just make sure we have enough adults with so someone can focus exclusively on our autistic son, so the other kid(s) won't have to stop their fun if he goes into escalation/meltdown.  We also know by experience that anything longer than 1-1/2 hours is icing on the cake.  We try to go while the going's good -- "declare victory and get the heck out."

Our favorite outings are in nature, or to the zoo.  But our son surprised us by wanting to go to the carnival in our small town and actually rode a couple rides.  We use those successes to give him a positive attitude about new outings.

Oh yeah, no vacation in Minnesota is complete without a visit to the train museum (Jackson Street Roundhouse).  It has both real-life trains and a huge play area with wooden railway.

Hey y'all.  We are constantly on the go with the kids, trying to expose them to new things and broaden, in particular, Cole's acceptance of new situations and places.

I thought a thread about good "field trips" you've taken with your children might help us other parents widen our kids' comfort - and FUN! zones.

If anybody lives near Pittsburgh, PA, the dinosaur hall at the Carnegie Museum is reopening this November after having been closed for a couple years.  They've been adding giant atriums and more dinos, and high teckin' everything up. I went there as a little kid and loved the dinos.  Our kids love them too.

Best of all, they are offering SLEEP OVERS in the new dinosaur hall!  We actually have family in Pittsburgh, so we're flying in to see the dinos (and family) the week after Thanksgiving.  The first sleepover ever in the dino hall will be ours!

We have slept in the backyard in tents numerous times, and last spring, we did a sleep-over at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.  The boys weathered all that extremely well, so we're headed for a "Night at the Museum."

What do your kids love, what have you tried, and what do you think this does (if anything) for their ability to face novel situations?

LeAnne C39336.7717824074

Well ds is often reluctant to try new things, but we always remind him of places we have been that he has LOVED after going - so this really helps. He does quite well with novel situations and transitions just fine unless we are at home trying to get him in the car!

One of his favorite places is the Mall of America. You have what used to be called Camp Snoopy (really fun ghost ride there), the Disney Store (they have Captain Hook costumes right now), the Lego store (even though ds doesn't like Legos - they DO have knight stuff there including swords and shields that are outrageously expensive and would last about 3 days at most!), the Rainforest Cafe and most important of all - Underwater Adventures! There you can touch a stingray AND a shark. You even get a sticker that says "I touched a shark!" Ds STILL has that sticker on his bunk bed from over a year ago!

We went to the State Fair and it was just totally awesome! Ds didn't want to go on any rides at first and then his baby sister insisted on going on one, so I think he was kind of shamed into going! Then we couldn't keep him off the rides after that.

We used to live in Pittsburgh BK (before kids). I don't know if the National Aviary would be something that would frighten our kids with all the birds flying around. But they are VERY cool. The Pittsburgh Zoo was pretty good as well. We have been to the free zoo here and both kids like it.

We do a lot of things and travel by car a lot. It's tiring for ds and for us, but since we have family out of state (and grandparents who are all either close to or over 80) we do what we must. I hope it makes for better flexibility and doesn't cause too much stress in ds. We have learned to try to have a day "off" at the end of a trip where no one has to go to school or work the next day. That can't always happen, but we try! It helps a lot when we can do that.

we took our boys to the silver lake nature center here in bucks county pa,  there are numerous hiking trails, a lake, several foot bridges and just the sounds of nature.   They absolutely loved it,  I had never seen them that well behaved on a family outing.   We did run into other children and families during our walk and we all said good morning,  after a couple times my boys started saying it........Michael even asked a little girl what her name was......I was shocked!

we definately plan on taking them there again.

When my son was little, I found it was really, really important to take him to places NT kids of his age gather, even if that eventually led to a meltdown. Not only did it get him used to other kids (he soon LOVED being with peers in social situations, even if they didn't love him) but it also taught ME what my son still needed to learn. I have to say, it was not always easy -- for either of us, but it was ALWAYS valuable.

One way to get reluctant kids into social situations is to pick places that play into their obsessions (should they have any). My son has ALWAYS loved exotic animals, so zoos are the best for him.  Even now.  We have a game farm near us that has a tame giraffe who will eat sliced carrots out of the kids' hands. I just came across a photo of my son feeding Gerry the Giraffe when they were both young (and shorter!) and another photo from this spring when Gerry was 20' tall and mys son was over 6'2"!  I'm going to frame them together when I get a chance.

AQUARIUM AQUARIUM AQUARIUM
My son is obsessed with the ocean & ocean animals. We drive an hour outside of town to go to the huge Omaha aquarium inside the Henry Doorly Zoo. It is AWESOME. It even was a tank that you can walk through while sharks, rays, & turtles & fish swim above and on both sides of you - so cool! He walks through it OVER AND OVER again until it's time to close It gets a little old LOL but I am used to his love of repetition!

Oh, Tzoya - what a wonderful photo duo those will make!  Really sweet.

The zoo has become our new park. This is actually a great zoo, kiddie rides, water play, lots of opportunities to touch and interact with animals. It is their favorite place to be. We go early while its not crowded and not too hot yet. Also they love the aquarium. We have to look at all the fish every time, and then there is a water play area that they love. We have memberships to both places. THey are almost never crowded so that isn't an issue, and it takes care of all the sensory seeking needs. If you live in Melbourne, Australia I would recommend the Train Museum in Newport(Champion Rd) It is full of old restored steam trains that the kids can climb all over. It is very cheap too and never very crowded there_ I dont think many people know about it. Also a ride On Puffing Billy the steam train out at Emerald is great fun- but not so cheap. LizWe take our three everywhere...  Sort of...  

Now that they are three and four, we are taking them lots of places.  When Bug was three (pre-diagnosis), and the girls were two - Forget it.  I don't think I left the house for 3 years!  It was just too dang hard.

One of the first things I realized when Bug got his label was THAT was why I couldn't take the three of them anywhere!  It wasn't me!  Any Hillbilly can take their kids to McDonalds playland, and here I am with a four year degree, a great husband, a minivan - and anything you need to raise a child in the 21st century - and I can't get it done.    Have I mentioned in this post how humbling this experience has been for me?  (Not just Autism, but parenting???).

Anyway - We live very near Chicago - so we have done lots and lots this year - Shedd Aquarium, Brookfield Zoo, the Children's Museum (we have several in Chicagoland).  This summer we did family trips to the public pool, and I did solo trips with all three to a park district spray park.  We did Swimming Lessons (park district).  Bug has done Soccer.  Hmmm, Back to outings, sorry.

Ooh, We did the Morton Arboretum this year - that was COOL, I think we'll join there instead of the zoo next year. 

We were lucky to do a week vacation at the NJ shore last summer, and this winter, we have a trip to Disney World planned.

We do everything that other families do - but sometimes Bug tantrums and we deal with it.  Every zoo trip this year is a "training mission" for Disney - so we make them walk, and when they fuss, we try to stop and take a break but not go home - so they learn to deal with it.

Ahhh...  It is always a learning process, huh?


Sharlet hates water including the pool and the beach, can't/wont use play equipment and is very anxious and fragile in new situations.  She enjoys going to the sports oval and just running around.  We also take our remote control flying wasp and kites up there which she enjoys watching.  Sometimes I brave the park, but it's so much work to keep her safe that it's a two man job.  Inevitably there are extreme meltdowns when we leave.
I'd love to take her out for dinner sometimes, but it's just too hard at the moment and so is taking her to the grocery store.  Her granny took her to the museum once , which I thought was exceptionally brave but surprisingly she said it went very well.
I wish we had an aquarium here because I think Sharlet would quite like it but the nearest one is an hour plane trip from here, in Melbourne.   Planes are out of the question at the moment.  It  is possible she would do ok, but it's also  possible (and I think more likely) that she would decide she'd had enough or was scared and it would become one of the worst experiences of all our lives.

 my son loves to swim so to the beach for the day or a pool is always a good trip. we went to washington dc for a few nites and went through all the museums he loved being in a hotel and liked going through the museums. hotels are cheap in the summer and museums were free.

Allegra how about swim lessons for those with disabilities. Museums are great lessons for our kids. I hated them as a kid though. Daniel was bad with going out. Somtimes he still is cause he fights with his sister. Dad loves ruff houseing and so this makes it worse. My dad loved ruff houseing also. Both our kids hate this.  moderngnome - have you ever been to Magic Waters? I would love to go there some time - I grew up about an hour from there but my parents would never take me... We pass it on our way to my parents' house and the kids always look in awe at the water slides. It's probably pretty far from you though...
 

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