Autism-Open Access

Autism-Open Access
Open Access

ISSN: 2165-7890

+44 1223 790975


Holiday, What Holiday? Vacation Experiences of Children with Autism and Their Families

Lorene Amet

This work aims at identifying the types of holiday experienced by families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 35 families of ASD children and 25 control families of children with Down’s Syndrome (DS) living in Scotland took part in a small scale semi-qualitative study to explore their experiences on holiday. In both groups, a significant proportion of the families had not taken any holiday away from home more than once in the last 3 years and there was limited use of children holiday centers. Families of ASD children who had been on holiday expressed overall less positive impressions of their experiences and showed limited use of public places such as restaurants, cafes, cinemas and hotels normally accessed by typical families whilst on vacation. Five areas were identified as influencing the quality of their experiences: 1-child’s disability, particularly with regard to behavior, 2-lack of suitable holiday structures, 3-financial limitation of the family, 4-lack of empathy from surrounding communities towards the disabled child and his or her family, 5- general state of exhaustion of the parents. The paper further describes two pilot holiday community experiences organised with 10 families with ASD children in an attempt to address some of the issues hereby identified. A retrospective analysis of these experiences and surveys suggests that amongst all five identified barriers, the issue of the child’s behavior is the most significant difficulty encountered by these families. Supporting families in understanding and improving their child’s’ behavior is needed to enable families to maximise their experience on holiday. Increasing the understanding of the condition, improving access to leisure activities and some financial aid would equally be beneficial.