Travel Tips

Scary Moments when Traveling with Autism

Scary Moments when Traveling with Autism

Carnival Magic Mediterranean Cruise Almost run over 

We had repeatedly asked the Carnival Magic crew if we could re-enter the port in Livorno, Italy on our own after meeting our friends in Pisa. Their answer was yes. In reality, that didn’t prove simple. We returned to the port entrance and found it locked. We were told by a port official that the only way to re-enter was via an official Carnival labeled bus. It was an incredibly hot day in July, and there was no shade to speak of while we waited. I could see my sensory-sensitive son was struggling. He leaped and ran towards the first Carnival bus that appeared. It was an incredibly hot day in July, and there was no shade to speak of while we waited. I could see my sensory-sensitive son was struggling. He leaped and ran towards the first Carnival bus that appeared. However, that bus didn’t stop and was inches from running him over. It turns out only certain buses were supposed to stop near the entrance, not all of them -a fact that was not initially mentioned.It was only half an hour later that the bus that actually COULD bring us in, finally showed up. Our takeaway: Better communication between the crew about the port regulations would have done wonders. The ship captain assured me in a talk we had after the incident that the staff will be instructed on better explaining the logistics of returning to the cruise ship to the passengers.

Carnival  Magic Mediterranean Cruise Almost lost 

This situation started as a goodwill gesture by the staff that went south. My son went to a teen activity which turned out to be too crowded and my son due to his sensory issues found it difficult to cope. So, the staff gave him some tokens to play video games at the ship’s video arcade. He proceeded to go alone to the ship’s arcade to play and didn’t call us to let us know where he was headedIn his moment of excitement he got confused and thought the staff would relay his whereabouts to us. In the meantime, I went to pick him up at the teen club and discovered he wasn’t there. I felt the panic set after I called the cabin, and he wasn’t there either. The staff did not feel it was important to call him on the ship’s speaker system and locate him though he was a minor at the time, and they were explicitly told he was special needs. We did finally find him half an hour later when he returned to our cabin on his own. Our takeaway: We bought a walkie-talkie system we now travel with and communicate with him every 15-20 minutes.We have also reiterated to him that he has to communicate where he is at all times.  

Long Haul Flight on Swiss Almost  hit

Long haul flights can bring the worse in some people. We were sitting in our economy seats on a Los Angeles to Zurich flight on Swiss Airlines.Our son with autism was sitting quietly in his seat by the window watching the movie screen when an elderly person was sitting in front of him reached out and tried to slap him. My motherly instincts kicked in incredibly fast as I reached for the flight attendant call button. Turns out my son was continuously moving his feet  (not kicking)  and managed to annoy our fellow passenger. When the flight attendant arrived, we explained that stimming is part of our son’s disability when he gets anxious.Luckily, there was a bulk seat available on the opposite side of the aircraft, and she moved our son with no further incident. The guy who was sitting front took this incident very personally and continued muttering nasty remarks to my other son and me throughout the ten-hour flight though I explained this was a medical condition.  Our Takeaway: I learnt to ask for bulk and or aisle seating for my son when I book a flight.

Chicago airport Almost blacklisted

We were flying Los Angeles -Chicago-Amsterdam with incredibly tight connect times.The flight experienced a 30 minutes delay in L.A., so we arrived at Chicago’s O’hare airport later than we were supposed to. Our next flight to Amsterdam was leaving in 15 minutes, so we asked the airline representative what to do. She assured us we could still make the trip. So, we ran dragging our carry-on bags across terminals and escalators to the next gate. To our disappointment, we weren’t allowed on board even though we could still see the aircraft on the tarmac. What the airline representative had forgotten to relay was that per United Airlines’ regulation the airplane door officially closes 45 minutes before departure on international flights. So, even though the plane was still physically there, we could not board it. Sweating and out of breath, my son had a major screaming meltdown.The situation got so bad the agent at the gate threatened to call security and put him on the no–fly list. He did calm down when we explained our kid’s diagnosis’ and proceeded to offer him a fast food coupon as compensation. Our takeaway: Never accept any flight connections shorter than 1.5 hours! Have you ever experienced ‘scary’ moments when traveling with your kids?  What did you learn from them?]]>

Margalit Sturm Francus on FacebookMargalit Sturm Francus on InstagramMargalit Sturm Francus on PinterestMargalit Sturm Francus on TwitterMargalit Sturm Francus on Youtube
Margalit Sturm Francus
A reformed dentist who gave up pulling teeth to show her son the world! Need tips on how to #travel with #autism? Follow me on Instagram & Facebook
Margalit Sturm Francus

Margalit Sturm Francus

A reformed dentist who gave up pulling teeth to show her son the world! Need tips on how to #travel with #autism? Follow me on Instagram & Facebook

0 thoughts on “Scary Moments when Traveling with Autism

  • when we did travel to the USA years ago from keflavik the assistance offered from icelandair was very good however on the plane from there to the USA my three year old son who was suffering from overflow and incontinence repeatedly soiled on the flight the flight attendants could not understand my explanation of why he was doing that and insisted he was unwell and insisted he saw a dr on arrival in minneapolis finally after repeating myself i made them see he did not need a dr and this was a common occurrance with him i was escorted off the plane by the cabin crew and pilots no less after all the passengers had disembarked the flight attendant said this was because other passengers felt hostile towards me for my son and the smell of him on the plane as he was taken back and forth to the bathroom during the flight for repeated changes!

    Reply
    • Hi Heather,
      Thanks for sharing your story. I’m so sorry that this was your experience and that the crew wasn’t that cooperative. With that said, I’m glad that this incident hasn’t deterred you from traveling with your kids and that you are still open to new adventures!
      Wishing you happy travels.

      Reply
  • Hello Margalit,
    I really enjoyed reading your stories of travel situations that went awry and how you have remedied them! The best thing we can do is to learn from these experiences that aren’t so fun. We have our share, too. I think the positive attitude behind your lessons learned shows why your family has successfully taken so many trips together.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *