Camping with an Autistic Child: 4 Ways to Handle and Prevent Sensory Overload

Camping with an Autistic Child: 4 Ways to Handle and Prevent Sensory Overload

There are many challenges to raising children. This is especially true for children who are on the autistic spectrum, especially during the early years when they are still learning how to cope with sensory over-stimulation. However, this doesn’t mean that the family has to miss out on your favorite activities, even if those activities take place outdoors. While family outings such as a camping trip may take some extra effort and planning, it can be done in such a way that the entire family can enjoy the outdoors together.

Camping with an autistic child - 4 Ways to Handle and Prevent Sensory Overload

Predictability is Key

It is very important to talk with your child well ahead of the time that you will be going on your camping trip. Autistic children need routine and can become agitated when their routine is disrupted. By talking with your child ahead of time and having them help with some of the planning, they will be more mentally and emotionally prepared to enjoy the trip. The uncertainty is often what overwhelms them in a new situation. They thrive on predictability and it is essential that they are well aware of an upcoming change to their schedule so that they aren’t caught off guard and overwhelmed.

Make a Sensory Go-Bag

Picking out a special backpack that is specifically for your child is vital. You will want to fill the bag with some of your child’s creature comforts of home that can give them a feeling of stability and promote a safe feeling for them. This can include smooth rocks, fidget toys, a favorite stuffed animal, or other favorite objects that they can carry with them. You will also want to include items that can help them to quiet the outside world during periods of over stimulation. These may include items such as sunglasses, noise canceling earmuffs, an MP3 player with headphones, a lap-pad or weighted blanket, and or even favorite coats or jackets. Don’t forget to bring this backpack with you when hiking or trips away from the campsite.

Create a Space for Sensory Time-Outs

A child that has autism needs to have space where they can regroup when they are experiencing sensory overload. Not having a space that is quiet and secure during times of over-stimulation can lead to an agitated state of being and even a meltdown. While this may seem like a task that is difficult to do while camping outdoors, it is not impossible. Camper trailers are an ideal way to offer your child that needed space during times of anxiety. While a tent may block out the visual stimuli, a camper can provide them with the benefit of quiet and complete isolation from the bugs and smells outside during times of stress. Let your child set up their own space in the camper with blankets and other things to help them remove themselves physically from the stimulus outside, and even just the knowledge that the space is there for them can help them face extended periods of high stimulus for longer.

Consider the Location

When going camping, you can make it easier for your child to enjoy the trip by choosing the right type of location. Avoid places that receive heavy traffic as a tourist location, as the isolation from society can work in your child’s favor when preventing anxiety. You can also look online at ratings to know if an area is heavy with mosquitoes or other insects that can aggravate your child’s senses and find places with fast-moving rivers for calming background noise. Another important thing to consider is to have a campfire ready site, whether you are cooking outdoors or not. The flickering flames of a campfire can provide a natural form of focus and promote a relaxed state in a child who is experiencing sensory overload.

With the proper planning, both you and your child can enjoy your time together camping outdoors. You know your child better than anyone else. Applying your knowledge with the steps listed above can go a long way with your child when making the transition of home routine to camping routine.

What are your camping trip go to hacks ?

Books About Bullying for Elementary Age Kids

Books About Bullying for Elementary Age Kids

Bullying can be tricky. There is just a fine line between one off meanness and consistent bullying. In my book, Strong Roots Have No Fear, I have spoken in length about step by step actionable steps you can provide your child. One of the most important ones is to give them scenarios and how to handle them. What better way than books to show them stories of every day children facing the same in a real or magical world.

The Shrimp and the Bully

I picked up this book on a whim and what a wonderful resource this is for kids who are small in height or feel they are different.

Bucket Dippers and Lids

This is a wonderful book for 6-8 year olds, to teach them the difference between someone who fills another’s bucket with kindness or reduces another’s happiness.

Berenstain Brothers – Stand Up to Bullying

If your kids like Berestain Brothers like mine do, you will love this look through their eyes. My boy used to love the read.

Why Bully Me

This is to show all friends come in different sizes and we need to empathize with everyone.

Juice Box Bully

One of the best things kids can do to combat bullying is to stand up for one another, which is exactly what The Juice Box Bully is about. Students will learn how to have each other’s backs instead of doing nothing when they witness bully confrontation.

Hundred Dresses

Style is a BIG issue for multicultural kids. It addresses a classmate who is ridiculed by bullies for wearing the same dress to school every day, while other students stand by and do nothing to help.


It is a perfect read for our increasingly digitally-savvy students. You want your kids to know how to handle cliques and digital pushing around.


I cannot recommend this book enough for little kids aged 6-8. It is so important to see the strength of every kid. August was born with a facial deformity so he’ll have to convince his classmates that he is normal, just like them, despite his appearances.

I Am Enough

Before anything, we need our kids to know that they are enough. How they are, in every way they are.

Llamma Llamma – The Goat Bully

Such a great book for tiny little ones, to show they what to do when bullies trouble them.

Stand in My Shoes

This book by the author of The Juice Box Bully helps children learn the meaning of empathy. Emily’s big sister explains that empathy is the ability to notice what other people feel. Emily wonders if having empathy really makes a difference, and puts it to the test! She suddenly has a whole new perspective on people.

Just Kidding

This is a problem even adults face. D.J.’s friend Vince has a habit of teasing heavily and then trying to brush it off with a “Just kidding!” D.J. worries that protesting will make it appear like he can’t take a joke. This book helps with a positive solution.

Bully Busters and Beyond

This book is a wonderful resource for 9 things you can empower your child with towards self-confidence, self-esteem, and strength of character.

Seeds and Trees

This is a sweet little book to talk to kid about the importance of words and the effect they have.

Toot Toot !

I read this book to my both my kids and we were so lucky to find it. It is a great way to show kids that EVERY single child has the power within to make a difference. My daughter still loves it.

Tales from the Bully Box

Real life stories that can make an impact as well. The book is really a collection of short stories about bullying from students of all walks of life. The subject matter is diverse and the book also includes discussion questions.

Strictly No Elephants

When a boy’s pet elephant is explicitly excluded from joining the local Pet Club, the boy sets out to show the other animals the error in their ways. A beautiful way to show kids the importance of inclusion.

A Glass Full of Rumors

We have all faced it. Which is why it is so important to share with kids early the importance of defining and stopping a rumor in it’s tracks.

My Princess Boy

It is a story of compassion, acceptance, unconditional parental love and friendship. We like it because rather than avoid a tricky subject.

There’s Roti in my Lunch Box

An important book for children living in a multicultural world, where other’s have different customs. Talk to your children about this .

For scenarios that you may come across in daily life and real world practical tips for dealing with bullying, what to do in case that happens and ensuring your child does NOT become a bully themselves, you can buy use the below book for your family.

If you found this resource useful, make sure to check out our post for books that help in empowering children early with a confident mindset.

Another great resource is

Books to Raise Awareness About Bullying in Elementary Age Kids

Accepting the Collective Historical Baggage of Our Cultures

Accepting the Collective Historical Baggage of Our Cultures

Meet Johanna C Castillo-Rodrigez, a lover of nature, culture, and languages, backyard gardener, raising multicultural and multilingual children. Supporting families in South Florida to have families that are conscious, multicultural and green!! Proud Latina Mom!

  1. Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

My name is Johana. I am Mama Tortuga. I was born and raised in Colombia. My mother had to immigrate after my father died. After that, I stayed with my grandparents for 6 years until when she was able to bring me to the United States. Here I met my partner for life, Francisco from Honduras. We decided after having a relationship for 5 years, we got married!!

Now, we are raising two children in a completely different culture and style of life from the one both of us were raised in. We love nature and simple living. We believe in living a life where we can be respectful with everyone and protect nature. We also believe in the power of community and the power of being ourselves!

  1.   Which cities have your lived in/ visited in your lifetime? Which is your favorite?

I really like where we live right now, which is South Florida, US. When I was a child I lived in a place called Aguazul which is in the East part of Colombia, a zone called “Los Llanos”. But I love mountains. I grew up surrounded by mountains in a city called Bogota.

  1.   What do brought you to what you do?

Definitely, being a mother. When I became a mother, that made me think about the kind of world I wanted to have for them and the community I wanted to have. Also, raising them to be multilingual citizens of the world!

  1.   What is one aspect in raising multicultural children do we need to be MOST aware of .

At this time, we need to grasp the historical baggage of our cultures, countries of origin and the dangerous trend of being oblivious to it. I believe that in not acknowledging our problems we are bind to repeat toxic patterns. Raising multicultural children in an increasing global society makes many people that haven’t heal and grasp those historical fears and pains, very afraid of others. Sadly, the white supremacists agenda masked by nationalistic points of view is really putting all of us in danger. It is a worldwide spread disease that we need to address.

Accepting the Historical Baggage of Our Cultures

  1.   What is one personal challenge you have overcome growing up?

Fear. I grew up in a very violent time and my family was constantly full of fear. I am choosing to live a life free of fear to make my own decisions and also allow my children to do the same regardless the circumstances.

  1.   Share with us two parenting hacks that have made life easy.

A relationship with your child is the most important ever. We can’t have a healthy relationship with our children if we don’t heal ourselves. That is one thing we need to work on every day. Think about it as a garden. You need to water it every day.

  1.  What projects are you working on next?

I am continually working on many local projects of activism and support to parents and families in my community. Right now, I am supporting different initiatives to support immigrants and refugees in Palm Beach County and also, supporting multilingualism in my community. Also, raising the consciousness around human and nature rights.

Also, right now, I am having a series of IG Lives, presenting community friends from around the world that are making a positive change in the world! #mamatortugacommunityfriends

  1.  What is one thing piece of advice you would give to children?

Be yourself and nature is your best friend. Learn from nature and play!

  1.  Tell us three things that are on your bucket list?

Visit Japan and get into an onsen. Watch the Aurora Borealis. See a world of World Peace.

  1.  What 3 books/movies  would you say changed your life?

This is a hard one!! But 3 of my favorite all time books:

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Pax by Sara Pennypacker and The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Mpho Tutu.

Movies: On the Way to School, The Embrace of the Snake, Ready Player One, 50 First Dates.

  1. Do you have any freebies for our readers?

Yes!! I have a series of Latinamerican Women that Transcended, study guide in English and Spanish

You can follow Johanna here —