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Cloudyrain

Cruising with a child with Autism

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Hello!

 

has anyone cruised P&O with an autistic child? We have taken him on a cruise when he was a baby and it wasn’t an issue then, but things are very different now and I’m not sure what to expect.

 

Routine is a big issue so I think a Cruise will be good in that respect. His diet is very very limited though so that does concern me. Also the Muster Drill and getting on and off could be difficult. 

 

We would be looking to go from Southampton (during term time) as we would (hopefully) be travelling with my parents and one of them is disabled so I think avoiding a flight would be a good idea!

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Hi

Sorry I have not got any direct experience myself but just wanted to mention a couple of things.

As the cruise terminal can be busy contact P&O customer service to request assisted boarding . This means you are all taken swiftly through security and on board straight to your cabin.

At muster arrive late when the crowds have died down  and explain to the crew at the door that your child has special needs. They will then let you do muster by the doorway and get you away a few minutes before everyone leaves.

Let P&O know about your child’s dietary restrictions. They are very good about diets and I am sure they will do everything they can to accommodate their needs. The routine is usually that the maitre’d will come to your table every night and check what you will need adapting on the next evenings menu. They also should be able to arrange a table in a quieter spot.

When disembarking I would suggest going to breakfast in the mdr as it tends to be quieter or even go and sit up the top of the ship by the pools and send someone to grab something from the buffet. Also ask for the latest leaving time as by then the rush is over.

Hope this is of some help.

Juliax

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There are a lot of people, including children, with special needs on P and O and the crew are very used to this and helpful.. Have a great time.

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I would suggest phoning P and O and asking how they could help him.Perhaps ask for priority boarding.Would he cope with childrens club? If so perhaps ask how they might cater for his special needs.Could he wear ear defenders at the Muster drill? If you were able to self disembark that might help as you wouldn t be hanging around.I have a grandson who is autistic and I have seen how different the needs can be with different children.If he manages to go to a mainstream school he may cope better than if, like my grandson he goes to a special needs school.Perhaps just take him on a 7 day cruise to see how it goes

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If one of your parents is disabled they would be well advised to have assisted boarding and disembarkation.  If you book in as a complete group together it will minimise waiting at the cruise terminal.  There may be additional things your parents may have available for them. P&O at Carnival House should be able to help if you phone the department.

 

The Reef children's club is a good place to join.  Turn up first opportunity to register.  The staff will go through standard information then discuss with you particular requirements which will be specific to your child.  First time you attend stay awhile then leave, go back every so often and see how it goes. Staff will give you a pager and try to customise things to suit.  It will either go well or not but they do have experience of this type of thing and will try a range of thing known to help in this type of scenario.  

 

Regards John

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20 hours ago, Cloudyrain said:

Hello!

 

has anyone cruised P&O with an autistic child? We have taken him on a cruise when he was a baby and it wasn’t an issue then, but things are very different now and I’m not sure what to expect.

 

Routine is a big issue so I think a Cruise will be good in that respect. His diet is very very limited though so that does concern me. Also the Muster Drill and getting on and off could be difficult. 

 

We would be looking to go from Southampton (during term time) as we would (hopefully) be travelling with my parents and one of them is disabled so I think avoiding a flight would be a good idea!

We've traveled with an autistic child on P&O for many years. Others have already provided most of the info you need.

 

Priority boarding is essential to stop a meltdown. Email P&O disability services and request boarding help with an autistic child. They will arrange check in at the first check in desk at a specific time, have someone to escort you to the front of the security line and make sure you get through security asap.

 

Once on board go to the MDR, the restaurant manager should be available, explain the situation. We arranged a specific table at 7pm each night. The table was right in the corner, our child could be seated facing the wall and so all other distractions were not seen. The Matire D came each evening and we could choose the meals for the following day, so our child knew what he would be given the following day.

 

At muster drill we gave our child his earphones and let him listen to music / watch his tablet, so that the noise would be less upsetting. I would arrive at muster drill early, pick your seats, tucked away in a corner and then wait until the crowds have disappeared before returning to your cabin.

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Ah thank you so much everyone: it’s so reassuring, especially hearing from people who have taken Autistic children on cruises.

 

We cruised quite a bit pre-child, but we were always “easy passengers”  and never had to seek any help or anything from staff, so I think this will be a different experience! And a very good point about my Dad: he wouldn’t be able to stand in a queue and we would be booking together so I will definitely contact Head office to discuss options.

 

thank you so much 🙂 

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Did someone on here a mention lanyards that identify children as having special needs. Enabling people to help and assist them better.

 

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2 hours ago, Scorpio41 said:

Did someone on here a mention lanyards that identify children as having special needs. Enabling people to help and assist them better.

 

I think they are lanyards with sunflowers on them for those with hidden disabilities.You were able to pick up one from some Sainsbury branches earlier this year but not sure if they still have them

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My daughter and husband cruised  last year with their 3 children, the middle has one has autism. He was 7 at the time.  You have already been given good advice on here. Leo didn’t like the Captain’s announcements so they carried his ear defenders at all times.  He was better in the MDR than the buffet as it was a calmer atmosphere. The staff were brilliant with him. Only one issue really - he is a good  swimmer and loved swimming under water in the pool. He grabbed his older brother’s leg and dragged him under and wouldn’t let go. He is very strong but as the water was not deep my daughter quickly got Max safe.  I’m sure you and he will have a great cruise.

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On 7/10/2019 at 1:57 PM, ann141 said:

I think they are lanyards with sunflowers on them for those with hidden disabilities.You were able to pick up one from some Sainsbury branches earlier this year but not sure if they still have them

 

Phew, I was starting to think I'd dreamt it after I typed it. 

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On 7/8/2019 at 8:02 PM, Cloudyrain said:

Hello!

 

has anyone cruised P&O with an autistic child? We have taken him on a cruise when he was a baby and it wasn’t an issue then, but things are very different now and I’m not sure what to expect.

 

Routine is a big issue so I think a Cruise will be good in that respect. His diet is very very limited though so that does concern me. Also the Muster Drill and getting on and off could be difficult. 

 

We would be looking to go from Southampton (during term time) as we would (hopefully) be travelling with my parents and one of them is disabled so I think avoiding a flight would be a good idea!

 

 

I have a nephew who is autistic:  

Diet, it would be worth getting in touch with the chef.  Make sure the chef is senior enough, ie:  the taller the hat, the better.

Routine:  you will obviously set your own and make it work.

Muster Drill:  Get some pictures of life jackets.

Getting on and off:  Contact (by telephone) P & O medical and discuss it with them,  hopefully, they will suggest the quietest time.

I hope you will have a wonderful time, hopefully you will find quiet areas.  Ear defenders would be useful if he will wear them

 

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Might be a suggestion to book select fare, so you get you choice of dining . Then you can pick the one that is best for you. I am sure club dining would be quieter than freedom, with people constantly coming and going. As stated when you ring Pando on the freephone number ask them in detail which table would be best for you and your requirements. They will then put it on your booking confirmation.

All the other suggestions are very very good.

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Posted (edited)

You probably know this but it would be helpful to talk through each day ... ie show the timetable for the day each morning and remind as you go along . It will help with routines ... the info sheets the evening  before will help with this. Sometimes just pictures of what is going to happen will help.  How about set dining times so he sees the same people at the same time at the same table every night? That really will help and as someone has said with the least distraction. Just another thought ..  can he have the menu in advance ? 

Edited by Presto2

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