All kinds of people feel called to the adventure of the pirate's life, and with that in mind we've put together a list of autism-friendly travel experiences for families with autistic children or adults. A pirate knows no bounds, so prepare to embrace the freedom of the pirate life with this list of cruises and destinations designed for your needs. Some of these locations might also be worth noting for families with special needs that are not on the autism spectrum.
1. Autism Cruises
The obvious choice for those of the pirate persuasion is to take to the seas! The Autism on the Seas organization schedules nearly 50 cruises annually on a wide variety of lines including Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, and Carnival Cruise Line. Autism on the Seas hosts the cruises on these lines so you can be sure the staff is trained and experienced in working with individuals who have special needs. Autism on the Seas offers financial assistance to families who find the costs of a cruise prohibitive.
Find accommodations tailored to your needs around the globe. Accomable listings are selected based on their suitability for those with mobility differences and their filter tools allow you to find anything from a cottage to a five-star hotel that exactly fits your requirements. They have 900 listings in 60 countries and they're still growing!
3. Tradewinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach in Florida
In 2010 they became certified by the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) which designates them as autism friendly. Their staff have special training to serve the needs of your differently abled family member and they offer safety kits to make your families stay more comfortable. Tradewinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach is a top rated resort hotel dedicated to providing activities for the whole family which includes two kids activity centers. As the resort's name and location might suggest, this is also a top destination for pirates! So, naturally, the activity centers features a Pirate Island Adventure!
CARD is a statewide program so if you're planning a trip to Florida you can design it around CARD certified locations and destinations. Florida is known for it's theme parks so another resource to look out for is special needs access passes. There's a fair number of theme parks that offer these passes and Friendship Circle has put together a comprehensive list of those that do!
4. Adaptive Sports
Embrace your inner adventurous pirate with Splore in Utah's great outdoors! The group specializes in creating adaptive adventure trips designed to empower and connect the participants while they whitewater raft, rock climb, snowshoe or cross country ski! Ready to work with your needs, they have an accessible outdoor experience planned and financial aid is available.
If you specifically have winter sports in mind head to Colorado for Telluride Adaptive Sports Program (TASP) or Waterville Valley Resorts for their Adaptive Snowsports program. The Waterville Valley resort welcomes people of all abilities to the slopes by providing specialized instruction and assistance. TASP has a eye towards serving veterans which means they have a lot of experience with adaptive sports for adults but they also run family oriented programs. All of this means no matter the differing abilities of your family members everyone will be able to experience the joy of skiing.
5. Destinations Abroad
In Europe there are multiple groups ready to tailor tours and accommodations to your needs. Your family can explore Greece with A Million Senses, France with HappyKidsHolidays, or Portugal with Portugal 4all Senses.
In the UK there are a couple of destinations for families with autistic members. The Thomas Centre in England and the Badaguish Centre in Scotland, both focus on providing access to outdoor activities from resort style accommodations specialized to your families needs.
Finally, if you have any concerns about flying to any of these lovey destinations Wings for Autism can help you address that at one of their airport rehearsal events.
These are just a few gems but there is a treasure trove of resources out there for families with Autistic loved ones! Let's chart the map to that treasure and not leave resources just lingering out at sea. We're keen to hear what resources you've used when planning your travels and we'd love to hear feedback on the kind of information you'd like to see included in the future. We'll see you in the comments!