Kaylynn D.’s summer was anything but dull! The 15-year-old Academy360 Lower School student and her family spent almost four weeks touring Europe; traveling through Berlin, Prague, Slovenia, Venice, Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, Paris and even spending time in London.

girl on stage at the piano
Kaylynn playing at the Golden Key Competition

The highlight of the trip was their visit to Austria, where Kaylynn, a talented pianist, joined other kids from across the U.S. in performing at the Golden Key Music Festival in Vienna, the country’s capital and birthplace of Mozart.

The ninth grader began playing piano several years ago, and she’s already won awards for her skill at the keyboard and successfully auditioned to appear at the Festival, which took place at the Mozart House music hall. Previously Kaylynn has played at Carnegie Hall as part of this festival.

Performing in public gives Kaylynn a great sense of accomplishment and the desire to continue, says mom Qing, and she’s encouraged by applause. Mom credits the ceremonies, student shows, and graduations at Academy360 for teaching Kaylynn the basics of being on stage – waiting her turn, sitting quietly, and how to bow.

family in front of fountain.
Seeing the sites with mom, dad and grandpa.

Kaylynn’s trip wasn’t the first time her family has taken her to far-flung places. The 15-year old is a seasoned traveler and has been to at least ten countries and many states in the U.S.

Kaylynn’s travels also prepared her for public performances. Qing says they began taking Kaylynn on trips when she was as young as 6 months old.  She made her first journey abroad at age 5. They’ve been on sightseeing trips, cruises, and outings to Disneyland and other theme parks.

Exposing Kaylynn to many different experiences and people at a young age was key, says Qing. It taught her how to behave in public and enjoy new experiences. They regularly took her to museums, zoos, concerts and other places, to familiarize her with things outside of her home.

Group of students in front of statue of Mozart
Photo op with the other Golden Key competitors.

Luckily for their family, Kaylynn easily took to the challenges of traveling and is always excited when the suitcases come out. She loves hotels and especially restaurants where she can try new foods. “She loves the newness of it,” says mom.

For many families, however, traveling with a child on the spectrum poses a unique set of challenges. Not all children take as easily to the unfamiliarity of new places and people. In those circumstances, planning ahead is key, suggests Autism Speaks. Before heading out the door, think through what experiences you may encounter on your vacation and how they may affect your child to be sure your own adventure is as excellent as it can be.

Watch for our follow-up post with more specific strategies on how to make travel positive experience for your family.

Lisa Crouch is the Assistant to the Public Information Officer. Prior to working at Spectrum360, she worked at Yahoo, MSN, The Bergen Record, and other media outlets. She has a BA in English Literature from Columbia University. She is the proud aunt of an Academy360 Lower School student. In her off time, Lisa is a digital artist and writer.