Autism, Vacationing and Elopement

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Autism, Vacationing and Elopement

It’s that time of year again!  Vacation planning!  I love going on vacation.  You want to know something else?  I love getting ready for vacation.  Yes, I can feel overwhelmed when I try to think of everything everyone might need, but I like the weeks before vacation when I get my stuff together preparing for the excitement ahead.

There are a few things that are different when vacationing with our son, Declan, who has Autism.  Things we have to plan, prepare and pack for.  One in particular, elopement.

We try our best at home to make a safe place for Declan.  We have alarms on our doors and keep our windows locked to prevent him from leaving the house without our knowledge.  We have made our neighbors aware that Declan has Autism, that he may wander.  At school, Declan will flee his classroom.  Declan has a 1/1 Aid that follows him wherever he goes.  His classroom is at the Intermediate Unit, so there is always someone watching the heavy doors.  But on vacation?  It is our family in a different town.  We have to be ready.

When we go on vacation there are certain things we do to help keep Declan safe from elopement when we are on vacation


Yes.  A kid leash.  I never really understood the kid leash, but then I had a son that didn’t respond to his name.  So we celebrate the kid leash.  More adequately put, the Brica “By My Side Safety Harness.”  We have this one here.  We have purchased it twice so we could always keep one in the car where ever we go.  Declan gets very excited about his surroundings and take off like a flash.  With the safety harness we can keep up with him and always know where he is.


We use these for all the kids.  There is always so much to see and do, any child could forget to tell us where they are going and then not be able to find us when they are upset.  So we use these travel ID bands on all the kids so if they were lost, they could be returned to us safely


We have purchased this for Declan for summer vacation this year.  If a responder or police were to approach Declan, he would flee.  He does not like when strangers approach him.  This ID band will be the most clear visible cue a responder may have to say, “this child has special needs.”  We will keep you posted on its use!


We rent a house when we go on vacation and there is always rooms that are best left untouched by Declan.  So we put these door knob covers on.  We also put one on the front door to help prevent him from leaving, but he has figured out how to get past them when he really wants to, but it helps.  It’s a symbol of “No open.”


These Stop Sign Prompts are also great visuals to put on doors that we do not want Declan to go through.


For a few years, when our little guy was super little we would turn his bedroom door knob around to lock him in his room at night.  It was how we kept him safe at home and our Pediatrician approved.  On our last vacation all of my kids shared a room, and Declan was not interested in leaving.  If he left his bed it was only to hop into bed with his brother or sister.  But when all else fails, safety first!


We use these at home and bring an extra with us on vacation.  These alarms stick to your doors with double-sided tape and are easy to remove without damage.  They are loud and have signaled us many times at home that Declan had left the house.


It is always a good idea to have this form filled out and ready to go, just in case.  You do everything you can to keep your special person safe, but they may get by undetected somehow.  Having the form ready and available will just bring another peace of mind when travelling away from the safety of your home.

For us, it helps that we vacation at the same spot every year.  We know Declan’s favorite things to do.  He loves one arcade in particular, with a Batman arcade machine.  He never actually plays it, but the sound and stimulation the pod provides draws him back every time.  If we can’t go and let him spend significant time in it, we don’t even walk that way.  He knows where to find the arcade, however, so that would be the first place we would check if he were to get away from us.  Keeping in mind what draws your special person would also be great information to find them and for first responders.

What do you do?  Let me know!  Would love any extra ideas!

Happy vacationing this summer!  Hope you can RELAX!


3 thoughts on “Autism, Vacationing and Elopement

  1. Thanks for the links to the leash and the form. We use a leash with Tyson as well. Some people stare or make comments, but I don’t care because I know I am doing the best I can to protect him from harm. He is super fast. And he knows he must put it on before we exit the vehicle.

    1. Wonderful! I agree – I want Declan to get out and experience the world, and I know that he will GO if he sees something he likes. The leash is how I keep him safe!

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