I found this old archive video from AutismLive the other day and even though it’s a few years old, there are some great nuggets in here that are pretty timeless! Evelyn Gould, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, spoke with the host, Shannon Penrod about what some of the steps that parents can keep in mind when trying to make car travel a lot more tolerable:

  1. First, she suggests to figure out exactly what the problems are. “This might first involve breaking down what the routine of getting in and out of the car would be. This can help you know exactly what the steps are and then can help you figure out where along that line of steps is your problem.” Shannon acknowledged that there may be multiple problems you need to deal with, but you might also find that if you can fix the first step in the chain where it’s starting to go wrong, then the other things may not be a problem.
  2. Depending on what the skill might be, you might have to do something called a “contrived practice.” For example, if your child has trouble sitting in the car seat, you might have to practice sitting in the car seat while you’re not driving.
  3. Evelyn suggests that parents be aware of any preferences related to sitting in the car. For example, some kids just can’t deal with straps, so you might have to cover it with a softer cloth if that’s the case. Other kids might have to practice sitting in the carseat without a strap first, then slowly work up to the strap being on them, but not buckled. Then work up to buckling the strap completely. This depends on what your child struggles with, and how you’re going to approach it, “but just remember to break it down into small, teachable goals and then build up to the real thing,” Evelyn suggests.
  4. Be aware of things you can control in challenging situations like these. There might be small environmental manipulations you can do. For example, Evelyn mentions one situation in which a child might transition to the car a lot better if you move the clutter from the hallway. Shannon, also mentions wearing a fanny pack before her son was able to sit in the car appropriately because she never knew what to do with her purse. These are all suggestions that might be helpful while you’re working on a more peaceful car routine.
  5. Lastly, be patient. Leaving the home can be a challenging things for individuals on the spectrum. So prepare to practice this skill a few times before it’s mastered. Shannon mentions that it took years for her son to travel with ease. 

Is there anything else that has worked for you?

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