Just so you know, I may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. Links may be affiliate links, which won't cost you anything extra when you purchase. For full affiliate disclosures, click here.
Do you want to create autism friendly vacation rentals?
How about an autism certified vacation rental?
We are excited to announce that The Piece Of Mind Retreat is the first-ever Autism Double Checked autism certified vacation home in the world.
Why autism friendly? Because autism friendly is family friendly.
Why autism certified? Because it is safe, simple and sensory-friendly.
Are you ready to explore the world of autism friendly vacation rentals? Do you own a vacation home that you want to make autism certified? I’ll show you how.
Find the home:
By far, the most time-consuming – and expensive – part of the process. After years of casual exploration, and months of serious looking, we were able to find a home that was appealing to families and other vacationers, regardless of whether or not they have special needs. Our chief criterion was to find a home that made you feel like you were on vacation without leaving the property.
We usually go to Oahu…however, your house has simply surpassed that house. This is the complete package for us and let us let our son just be a kid. As you know, we have already booked this house for next year, because of how much our whole family liked your home. Thank you so very much for sharing your home with us.~ Chad
After traveling TO a vacation home, many individuals with autism have very little tolerance for further travel. So a place where everyone would be happy “staying put” was essential. Easy access to necessities (read: Target) was also important, as well as the home being self-contained and with sufficient outdoor space to provide a buffer.
It was also important to have one sleeping area that was NOT connected to a bathroom nor to an outside door. Access to either makes it more challenging for the rest of the family to sleep with any peace of mind. In the kitchen, it was a plus to find a smooth, ceramic top electric range, with knobs not at child-height.
We enlisted the services of a like-minded realtor, something I highly recommend. Because knowing an area well, and knowing it’s housing market well, are two separate things entirely.
Furnish and modify the home:
The adage “less is more” applies more with autism families than almost anyone else. Keep furnishings durable, and decor simple. Consider a tile or wood floor when possible. If couches and chairs have washable slipcovers, that is a bonus. If shades or blinds can be cordless and blackout a room, that can be significant.
Consider the outdoor space:
The Piece of Mind Retreat is blessed with sand AND water, in the form of a sand volleyball court and pool with water features. Plenty of sensory options are certainly helpful, but they don’t all have to be large-scale. A hammock, a hose with a twist-on sprinkler head, or even just different seating options can all help different individuals address their sensory needs. Safety should also be a consideration. A fence with a gate that latches is ideal. Clear sightlines are helpful. And a cover or closure on any grills or fire pits is also good.
He is very sensory[-seeking] and loved the pool, sand, and landscaping to look for geckos. Having an autistic & ADHD child is very challenging and the pool helps relax him.~ Chad
Safety and Sensory Additions:
Providing a few sensory options for use indoors or out is also helpful. The Piece of Mind Retreat has a few durable, easy to clean items like Aku rings, stepping stones, and a liquid timer. A door monkey allows for a door to be temporarily, yet safely, latched – great for “protecting” a bathroom counter that has tempting liquids or for keeping an autistic individual safely in a specific room at night. Consider outlet covers, an adjustable toilet seat and/or lights with dimmers as other additions.
Here are my recommendations for the tools that have made this process go as smoothly as possible. I started at zero in terms of building a website from scratch (playing with early versions of Google Sites, notwithstanding!). In under a year I felt like I had the skills – and tools – to launch a website for the Piece of Mind Retreat.
Complete Certification Process:
Autism Double Checked has pioneered the process of providing autism certification to vacation rental homes. So if you have autism friendly vacation rentals, take the next step and get them certified.
You will need to register for and complete the autism vacation home owners course. This straightforward online course is self-paced, and you can learn when and how to modify your property even if you were not already familiar with autism.
Next, you will complete a property checklist, to gather relevant information about your property. This data will be compiled into a renter’s guide that you can share with potential renters, or those that have already booked your property and are planning their stay.
What is the Piece of Mind Retreat? Special Vacations for Special Families
4 Ways of Rethinking Travel for Your Special Needs Family