Dear Hubby and I took the boys to the county and state fairs last month. We try to go every year and even though our oldest son has autism, we’ve found a way to make a trip to the fair enjoyable for everyone.
Every child with autism is different and I know that this list won’t apply to everyone. However, I would like to share it with you and maybe you can modify it to fit your personal circumstance, even if your child doesn’t have autism.
Here’s what we did:
- We fed our son before we left. He has big issues with trying new foods, so we made sure we didn’t run into an issue with him being hungry in the middle of the family outing.
- We waited until the last minute to tell our son we were going to the fair. That way, we didn’t run into issues with him misunderstanding when we were actually leaving.
- We explained in advance the process of waiting for your turn to ride on the rides.
- We went early in the day when there wasn’t as many people. Because it wasn’t crowded, it wasn’t as loud. Our son gets sensory overload when he is at places where there are a lot of people and loud noises.
- We signed him in at the safety table so that they could put our phone number on him in case he got lost. This wasn’t a big concern at the county fair, but it was at the state fair because there were more people and the fair was bigger.
- We got a wristband for him so that we didn’t have to worry about keeping up with tickets and breaking the flow of riding rides. The wristband gave him unlimited access to rides.
- If we wanted to see anything that was different from the rides or something that wasn’t of interest to him, we would use the first then principle. For example: “First, we’re going to see the animals. Then we will ride on more rides.”
- We counted down the number of rides he had left before it was time to go home. Example: “Two more rides before we go home. One more ride and then home. After this ride, we are going home. Time to go home!”
Some wonderful things happened with our son as a result of our trip to the county fair. For starters, he tried powdered donuts for the first time! My son struggles with food aversions, so this is a big deal. Here’s how it happened. I wanted something sweet, so I asked my husband to get some donuts for me. The vendor gave us freshly cooked donuts and dumped a heap of powdered sugar on top. I offered one to my son and at first, he strongly refused. I then encouraged him to just lick the donut. He smelled it and took a small bite. The next thing I know, the donut was gone and my son was asking for more! “Would you like some more please,” he said. I was so excited for him and we ate donuts all the way to the car. I later found out that he thought the white substance on the donuts was snow! I laughed so hard at that one!
Also, my son recalled every ride that he rode on! We typically have a hard time with getting him to recall things that happened during his day. After we got home, I talked with him about our trip to the fair and I started asking him about the rides he got on. Normally, he would repeat back what I just said to him. That’s called echoalia. But this time, he named several rides that he got on. I was so happy and proud of him!
What are your tips for a successful trip to the fair?