From anxious to confident on holiday

18th August 2017

Planning a summer holiday can be exciting and stressful for everybody, but if you have autism you may find it particularly challenging.

Autism affects how a person communicates and relates to people, and how they experience the world around them. A holiday, where everything around you changes and routines are different, can be difficult. Staff at FitzRoy Supported Living in Cambridgeshire told us how planning and preparation can make all the difference.

“When Chris first started going on holidays, they weren’t successful as his autism would cause him to get very anxious. We started working with Chris to help manage his anxieties and gradually built up his confidence to do new and different things. For instance, one year we did a day trip on a boat which led to Chris feeling confident enough to stay overnight on one.

One of the things we did was help Chris understand what a holiday actually is. The difference between going on holiday and moving to a new home can be hard to understand for someone with autism, as you do the same things for both. You pack, you travel somewhere different, and then you unpack.

We have supported Chris to go on holiday for a number of years, so he has a toolkit of things he knows he likes to do, which means he can tell us about what he really wants.

This year Chris wanted to go to Skegness which he has enjoyed before. After a lot of planning and preparation, we set off. Over the weekend Chris went to pleasure beach, on fairground rides, had a long walk on the sea front, hired a boat, and went to an aquarium. One evening we went to the theatre to watch a show which he loved.

Before, many of these activities would have caused Chris to feel highly anxious, but with the right support he is now confident and relaxed.”