The Autism Mom Toolkit: The Go Bag

If you have a child, you need a Go Bag. If you have a special needs child, it’s non-negotiable. What is it? A tote full of everything you need to “go” at a moment’s notice!

Unfortunately, I learned we needed a Go Bag the hard way. One Sunday morning, we settled into the pew only to realize neither of us remembered Henry’s headphones. Rolling our eyes and sighing, Keith and I hoped for the best. All was well for a little while, and then . . . Let’s just say most of the sanctuary heard what Henry thought about the pastor’s prayer!

The gift of the Go Bag is peace of mind. Having everything you need for an outing in one place will combat the hurry-scurry before leaving home and potentially prevent meltdowns and emotional distress later – both yours and your child’s. If your child’s needs include medical care, the bag could even save his life.

Our bag contains:

1. Headphones 

Henry’s headphones aren’t needed at school as much as we anticipated (maybe the daily exposure helped him acclimate?), but he always requests them in the church sanctuary. The sound of singing en masse plus the organ is just too much, though he loves music. Even the preacher’s microphone can be irritating.

When Henry aged out of the church childcare, we brought his iPad with plug-in headphones. Over time we were able to wean him off the iPad, and now he simply uses his Baby Banz. The great thing about these is that they muffle but do not cancel sound. Henry often whispers commentary on the preaching and even asks questions.

2. Activity books

Henry has never enjoyed coloring books or drawing, but he digs hidden pictures, puzzles, mad libs, and mazes. Highlights publishes wonderful series of activity magazines for all ages, including one we love called Puzzle Mania. Amazon and your local bookseller are also great resources for activity books like those from Kumon and The Everything Kids’ Mazes Book.

3. Snacks and juice box

Snacks are a given for a family like ours. Henry’s dietary needs are, well, unique. Many of you can relate, whether your child has self-imposed dietary restrictions, food allergies, or other medical needs.

We like to use Tupperware bottles for a water/juice mix, but it’s always nice to have a juice box stashed in your bag for impromptu trips or even an emergency. Don’t do juice at your house? Toss in a water bottle or even these milk boxes that don’t need refrigeration.


Obviously, the contents of your Go Bag will depend on your children’s needs and will change over time. (Ours used to contain a chewy train necklace, for instance.) Here are some ideas to get you started:

Diapers and wipes
Extra clothes
G-tube supplies
Medical gloves
Small toys
Stress ball
Hand fidgets
Chewable fidget or chewelry
Notebook and pencils/pens
Drawing pad or coloring book and crayons
PECS and/or visual schedule
Card games
iPad or other tablet
iPod loaded with soothing music


Do you have a Go Bag? If so, did I leave something out?
Did this post inspire you to create a Go Bag for the first time? I would love to hear about how you and your child use it. Leave me a comment here or on FB anytime.

New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 9-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

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