by Chris Williams | Jun 09, 2015

Travel Tips for Summer Trips

Summer is here! Many of you are planning to travel and enjoy the season. We encourage all of our families to take trips and enjoy some fun together. Sometimes, though, travel can be a challenge.

By now most of you have heard about Donna Beegle and her 15-year-old daughter, Juliette, being kicked off a plane in Salt Lake City. Juliette has autism and would not eat cold food on the flight. Her mother tried to get her some hot food, but the situation resulted in a minor disturbance which led to the captain requesting their removal.


Family Kicked Off Flight after Daughter with Autism Deemed ‘Disruptive’ – NBC News
Woman Claims She and Daughter with Autism Were Kicked Off United Airlines Flight – ABC News

An upsetting situation for the family, for sure.  It got us thinking about what families can do to make summer travel less stressful.

To that end, we’ll discuss some “Travel Tips for Summer Trips” in this issue of Thrive.

Planning Ahead Makes the Trip More Fun

One important thing to do, if your child has special dietary needs like Juliette, is call or email the airline ahead of time. Ask for Customer Service or Customer Care. Explain that you have “specific travel needs.” The airlines will do their best to make your family comfortable.

A second Travel Tip: Plan for your child’s entertainment needs. Try this – the day before the trip, put out their toys to see which toys they go for. Stagger showing them new items, until it seems they’re getting bored with the one they see in front of them. Make note of which ones they like right now, and bring those on the flight.

A is for Apple Travel Tips for Your Fun Summer Trips

Every child’s needs are unique. We have this list of Travel Tips, collected from years of working with children of all ages.

Some may be appropriate for your child. Some may not. Please read through the list, and if one tip looks like one your child would enjoy, try it out.

  • Make a list of things you’ll need well in advance.
  • If you want to buy them a new toy, do so a couple days before the trip starts. Don’t introduce it to them during the trip; this may upset them.
  • Pack familiar food for meals & snacks. Don’t try to introduce new foods right before the trip.
  • If you have one, bring along an iPad with games and movies.
  • Don’t forget their headphones and ear plugs.
  • Prior to the travel day, use social stories to explain where you’re going & how you’ll get there. Use pictures to show the transportation method, and what to expect on the way. This will familiarize the trip to your child, so they’ll understand what’s happening better.
  • If your child is being toilet trained with a special toilet insert, take it with you.
  • Bring along comforting items, such as stuffed animals and a blanket.
  • If child is still small, bring their stroller to use during long waits in line.
  • Keep your child occupied. If they appear bored or anxious, offer them a choice of toys or games so they have something to focus on.
  • Don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. Your comfort & enjoyment are important too!

If you’d like to try out any of these tips in the presence of one of our therapists, please ask your supervisor. We’re happy to arrange it.

Have a safe & happy summer!

We Appreciate Your Feedback

Now that you’ve received a few issues of our “Thrive” newsletter, we’d like to ask for your feedback. What do you think of the articles? Are they helpful? Encouraging? Is there a topic you’d like to read more about?

Use our dedicated feedback email address:

We welcome ALL feedback from our parents at this email address. If you want to share your thoughts about a behavior technician, a supervisor or a billing process, please email & tell us.

Feedback emails will receive a personal response from your supervisor, or from A is for Apple management, if you need anything.

Thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback!

Walk Now for Autism Speaks – Event Recap

The annual “Walk Now for Autism Speaks” took place on May 16. It went great!

We had bubbles, face painting and apples to give out at the Resource Fair. Three of our speech therapists and five supervisors staffed the booth. Which had a lot of people stop by – the therapists who did face painting said the kids kept them pretty busy all day!

To all of you who came out and walked with us, thank you for supporting Autism Speaks. All of our crew came out to walk & appreciated everyone who joined in. (Our mascots Ace and Gizmo had to stay home, sadly. Otherwise they’d have joined us out walking too.)

Our big Raffle Winner was Alysa Nagatani of San Jose. She won the iPad Mini!

Thanks to your support, Team A is for Apple contributed $1,380 to Autism Speaks. All told Autism Speaks raised $257,548 for autism support programs & research.

We’ll be back for next year’s Walk, of course. You’ll hear about it right here in “Thrive”.

Inside A is for Apple

Calm Your Child with a Digital Aquarium DVD

Does your child have trouble calming down, or shows challenging behaviors? If so, we have a recommendation that may help.

It’s called “The Digital Aquarium.” The Digital Aquarium is a DVD which shows a beautiful panorama of ocean life – sea turtles, coral reefs, and big schools of fish swimming across the screen. Like a nature documentary.

Here’s an example of the Digital Aquarium on YouTube:
The Digital Aquarium, a Sensory-Based Relaxation Tool – YouTube

The Digital Aquarium is made by Calming Strategies, at There are four DVDs available. They all depict different types of ocean life, accompanied by soothing music.

From the maker’s website: “The video programs are like a virtual dive. Teachers and caregivers for children with autism have told me that the video images and music simply lower the energy level in the room to the point where they can get through a structured activity.”

We’ve seen firsthand how relaxing videos like the Digital Aquarium can be. If your child has trouble calming down or focusing on tasks, we recommend showing them a Digital Aquarium DVD. You can order them directly from