NY Times: Rolling Out the Welcome Mat for Travelers With Autism

A growing number of theme parks, hotels and special attractions are introducing autism training and sensory guides.


The Thibault family at Rio Secreto, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, 2017. From left, Chris, Sebastian, Tristan, Emerson and Nicole Thibault.Credit via Thibault family


When Nicole Thibault had her first child, she imagined traveling everywhere with him. But by age 2, he would become upset by simply passing a restaurant that smelled of garlic. Waiting in line elicited tantrums and crowded places overwhelmed him. Autism was diagnosed within the year.

“I thought maybe our family dream of travel wouldn’t happen,” said Ms. Thibault, 46, of Fairport, N.Y., who now has three children. But she spent the next three years learning to prepare her son for travel by watching videos of future destinations and attractions so that he would know what to expect. The preparation helped enable him, now 14 and well-traveled, to enjoy adventures as challenging as exploring caves in Mexico. It also encouraged Ms. Thibault to launch a business, Magical Storybook Travels, planning travel for families with special needs.

Now the travel industry is catching up to the family. A growing number of theme parks, special attractions and hotels are introducing autism training and sensory guides that highlight triggers, providing resources in times of need and assuring families they won’t be judged.

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First Responders and Autism Training in the News

In West Liberty, Iowa, first responders recently completed autism training, stemming from an incident where a child with autism escaped from his home and went to the public pool.

As a nonverbal child, he has trouble communicating with people and they can have trouble communicating with him. This means that being around water can be especially dangerous.

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This article, and many others, demonstrate the need for nationwide autism training for first responders. IBCCES offers online training specifically designed for law enforcement and first responders that has already been implemented in numerous departments across the US.

Learn More About First Responder Autism Training