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How to Plan an Autism Friendly Trip to New York City





Embarking on a journey to the bustling metropolis of New York City is an exciting adventure for anyone, but for individuals on the autism spectrum, it can present unique challenges. However, with a thoughtful and considerate approach, a trip to the Big Apple can be transformed into an autism-friendly experience, ensuring that every member of the family can fully enjoy the sights, sounds, and culture of this iconic city. In this blog, we will explore various aspects of planning an autism-friendly trip to NYC, from sensory-friendly attractions to accessible transportation options, providing valuable insights and tips to make the journey an enriching and enjoyable experience for individuals with autism and their families. There is so much to see and do in New York City, it could take you months, and you will still need more time. When my little family visited, we were a family of three. We stayed at a hotel in Times Square.


While this may be a little more towards the budget, it was worth it when it came to walking somewhere or connecting with a tour operator. Additionally, when we wanted to go out for a meal, we had so many options to choose from. For those picky eaters, you have so many options to include food cart vendors, which was an experience as well, that you will find something for everyone.





The first expedition around the city I would suggest, and it is very “touristy” is a Hop On/Off bus. I recommend this because you can ride the entire loop and see the city, you can get off anywhere along the route and visit an attraction or take a break when you want. Additionally, if your child needs a sensory break, this is fantastic. As an alternative, hire a private driver for a tour of the city. This allows you to tailor the tour, there will not be an overwhelming amount of sensory input, and you can decide when to take breaks or make a stop.


No visit to the Big Apple is complete without a trip to Broadway. There are several shows that have sensory performances and cater to our community. These titles include Frozen, The Lion King, Aladdin, Harry Potter, the Cursed Child, and others. When planning, I would start with planning the Broadway Show because the sensory friendly shows are limited and offered at a few times per week.





To see all downtown New York City, I recommend choosing Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building. They each provide a different view and a different history of how they were built. The top of the rock allows you to get pictures as if you were part of the crew that built the building. The Empire State Building provides an immersive experience too with displays, 4D media elements and soundtracks. I highly recommend going early and being the first in line. As the day progresses, the line will become longer. A line is no place for the neurodiverse and you will want to avoid these if at all possible.


Another fantastic option that I recommend is a ferry ride out to Ellis Island and the Statue of

Liberty. There is a Statue of Liberty Museum which is relatively new. You will ride the ferry to reach the island. Your ticket provides access to the grounds, Ellis Island Museum, Statue of Liberty Museum, and the ferry ride ticket. I highly recommend purchasing your tickets as soon as you know you will be traveling to New York City. There are days that are in high demand and will sell out. This means that you could ride the ferry and not have access to the Statue and museum. As a side note, currently, there is no climbing of the Statue of Liberty. You can select your time.





Finally, depending on how long your trip is to New York City, I would also add in a few things that are part of New York City. These all occur in Times Square. First up is to visit the Lego Store. Sometimes outside of the store, they have something gigantic built. The first time I went with my family, they had an airplane built that was half the size of a regular plane. Another thing to do in Times Square is to eat something from a street vendor. The food varies, but you could get a hotdog, big pretzel – you get the idea. Finally, there are people watching. This can be entertaining. There are always people dressed up in costumes. Beware, they want money to take a picture with them. If you want to take a picture, just be prepared to “tip” them.





In conclusion, planning a trip to New York City with a child on the autism spectrum requires careful consideration, but the rewards are immeasurable. By embracing the city's diverse offerings and making thoughtful choices, families can create lasting memories while ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience for everyone. From sensory-friendly attractions and inclusive accommodations to strategic planning for transportation, this journey is an opportunity for growth, understanding, and shared moments of joy. As we navigate the bustling streets and iconic landmarks of New York City, let us celebrate the uniqueness of each family member and appreciate the strides made toward making travel more inclusive. In the heart of the city that never sleeps, we discover not only its vibrant energy but also the warmth and acceptance that make it a destination where every family, including those with autistic children, can find their place and create cherished memories together.


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