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Preparing Your Child With Autism To Travel For Hajj Or Umrah

It’s the month of Ramadhan, with Hari Raya Aidilfitri coming up in just a few short weeks. Previously, we published several blog articles to provide simple tips and strategies on:

During the month of Ramadhan, it is common for Muslims to go on a pilgrimage, otherwise known as Hajj or Umrah, and many families would take this opportunity to travel abroad. However, travelling overseas for Hajj or Umrah can be challenging for families with children with autism due to various factors. In this blog article, we would like to share some tips and strategies to help you prepare your child with autism to travel for Hajj or Umrah so that you and your family can have a successful trip!

  1. Read Social Stories about travelling for Hajj or Umrah

Travelling anywhere new and unfamiliar can be a difficult experience for children with autism. As such, preparing them for the experiences they will have from the point of leaving their home to the new location can help give them predictability of what will happen.

Social stories help to prepare the child for what they are going to see, as well as what they are expected to do. Check out some of our previous resources below for more tips:

  1. Watch videos of what Hajj/Umrah looks like

Your child could also benefit from watching YouTube clips of common Islamic rituals, such as tawaaf (circling around the Kaabah). This will help give him or her predictability of what the family will be doing.

  1. Read storybooks and look at pictures of Hajj/Umrah

There are several children’s books available on pilgrimage. Your child may enjoy reading storybooks about Umrah so as to familiarise with what they will be seeing on the real day.

  1. Role play together as a family

Children with autism benefit greatly from practice and role-play. The family could pretend to do the tawaaf at home. If your child can read, you could write out the main doas (prayers) in large font, read and rehearse it with your child.

  1.  Bring travel kits and busy bags

As with any long holiday, think about factors that could affect your child’s comfort during the pilgrimage, be they long waiting times, being in a crowd, heat or sounds. Consider bringing the following items if you think your child may need them:

  • Busy bags including the child’s favourite toys, puzzles and books
  • Water bottles
  • Snacks
  • Dry/wet tissues and hand sanitiser
  • Nappies
  • Sun hats and sun cream
  • Neck pillows
  • Hand fans
  • Any regular medication
  1. Safety measures

As it can get fairly crowded during Hajj or Umrah, consider attaching a wristband, ID badge or strap to your child with identifying information should they get lost in the crowd. Straps can also be attached to trouser belts if your child is sensitive towards items around their wrists. These identifying markers could include the child’s first name, parents’ names and contact numbers, as well as the hotel name and telephone number.

We hope the above tips and strategies have been useful in helping you prepare your child with autism and your family for the month of Ramadhan and upcoming travels for Hajj or Umrah! We would like to take this opportunity from all of us here at EAP to wish our Muslim families a happy and blessed Ramadhan!