Do you have a child with autism or special needs? Do you dream of a vacation that is fun and relaxing for the entire family? Well, I just learned of a fantastic program based here in Florida that can help! Called Autism on the Seas, this company has been working with Royal Caribbean since 2007 to provide group cruises and with Celebrity, Carnival, NCL, Princess and Disney Cruise Lines to offer individual cruise services.
They can help with the simple stuff like guaranteeing priority boarding and private muster drills (so your sensory sensitive child isn’t crammed onto a deck with 1,000 strangers while wearing a life vest). Or you can opt for a group cruise with the Autism on the Seas staff where they provide children’s programs (that they staff), and private family activities. They can also provide private sessions for time on the rock wall, pool slides, basketball courts, ice skating rinks and more (on a Royal Caribbean ship).
A few more things I think are great about this service:
- They provide sibling activities so the whole family is able to create special memories together.
- You don’t have to worry about potty training age restrictions for play areas
- They provide pre-cruise PECS photos to help prepare kids for the journey
- Cruise social stories are included and sent 2-4 weeks prior to your trip
- They work with the cruise line make sure all food allergy/dietary requests are met
- They offer teen autism programs
- The Autism on the Seas staff ratio to your child is 4 to 1
- They provide supervised night out and day sessions so you can (gasp!) have a romantic meal or relax by the swimming pool.
- Mr. Jamie Grover, the director of group development, is also the program coordinator for the University Center for Development Disabilities at California State University-San Bernardino.
And none of this costs you extra! Amazing! All that is required is that you book your cabin through Autism on the Seas. They even offer a flexible payment plan.
I’ve cruised once before with Royal Caribbean and was impressed at the ship amenities and level of service, but knowing the company works so closely with a program like this makes me respect them even more. Autism on the Seas works with other cruise lines, but only offers the group cruising with Royal Caribbean.
A June cruise even offers the chance (for no extra charge) for your child to participate in The Miracle Project. The Miracle Project is a theatre and film project for children on the autism spectrum. Kids will have the chance to sing, play instruments and act. At the conclusion of the program they will perform a show on stage for everyone to watch. Can you imagine what a special memory that could be ?
If a cruise is out of the budget for your family (and what family with autism isn’t struggling with finances?) the Skyeward Bound Ranch program offers a grant to help pay for cruises and summer camp programs for kids on the spectrum. Click here to learn more.
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