Rolling Out the Welcome Mat for Travelers With Autism

The Thibault family at Rio Secreto, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, 2017. From left, Chris, Sebastian, Tristan, Emerson and Nicole Thibault. Credit via Thibault family

A growing number of theme parks, hotels and special attractions are introducing autism training and sensory guides.

When Nicole Thibault had her first child, she imagined traveling everywhere with him. But by age 2, he would become upset by simply passing a restaurant that smelled of garlic. Waiting in line elicited tantrums and crowded places overwhelmed him. Autism was diagnosed within the year.

“I thought maybe our family dream of travel wouldn’t happen,” said Ms. Thibault, 46, of Fairport, N.Y., who now has three children. But she spent the next three years learning to prepare her son for travel by watching videos of future destinations and attractions so that he would know what to expect. The preparation helped enable him, now 14 and well-traveled, to enjoy adventures as challenging as exploring caves in Mexico. It also encouraged Ms. Thibault to launch a business, Magical Storybook Travels, planning travel for families with special needs.

Read more by Elaine Glusac at thenytimes.com