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Most parents would be a little worried if their child was heading to a pop concert along with 80,000 screaming fans.

TravelManagers’ Melanie Whyte had a slightly different reason to be concerned when her teenage daughter attended a recent Sydney concert by Taylor Swift.

Mel’s daughter has autism so she had to make sure she didn’t get overwhelmed by the sensory overload of such an experience.

Fortunately, as a Certified Autism Travel Professional with more than a decade of experience in arranging travel for people with special needs, Mel had exactly the creativity and understanding required for such an undertaking.

She now hopes that her daughter’s experience in Sydney will inspire other families to introduce their neurodiverse children to the delights of seeing the world together.

“I earned major kudos from my daughter, and set the tone for our entire experience, by tracking Taylor’s real-time flight location as she made her way to Sydney,” Mel said.

“If you pay attention to the finer details, it’s entirely possible to create wonderful holiday experiences for families with additional needs.”

Mel’s quest to unlock the joy of travel for families with neurodiverse children has been a long-term passion project for the Tasmania-based personal travel manager (PTM), who says much of her expertise in understanding the specific needs of children with autism stems from personal experience.

“Kids with autism deserve to see the beauty of this world as much as anyone else, they learn so much through travel.

“I have two neurodiverse children of my own and figuring out how to provide them with positive, enriching international travel experiences has truly opened the world to them.”

Mel’s work in neurodiverse travel sprang from a holiday she took with her son when he was only four.

“I took him on a holiday to Fiji. His experience was transformed from a dream to a nightmare in a heartbeat, thanks to the sensory overload of a flushing aeroplane toilet.

“I knew it was up to me to figure out how to open the world to my kids. It takes plenty of creativity and understanding to make it work, but twelve years on, we’ve shared so many wonderful adventures together.

“They have confidence in my ability to ensure that their needs will be met and more importantly, they have confidence in themselves as a result of their travel experiences. As a mum, I consider this to be one of the greatest gifts I could have given my kids.”

Mel now uses the knowledge she’s amassed to help other families in similar situations experience the joys of travel.

“I can take care of the countless little details that make all the difference to their holidays.

“It might be knowing which cruise ships offer calm spaces, or which Paris hotels can guarantee blackout curtains in their rooms.

“From creating social stories that feature a child’s favourite teddy to incorporating appropriate downtime into their daily itinerary, I love playing a part in ensuring that neurodiverse children have opportunities to experience the world on their terms.”

Mel also credits TravelManagers for being flexible and supportive when she needs to prioritise her kids.

“I’ve been with TravelManagers for close to thirteen years now and our partnership has been integral to all that I’ve achieved for my business, my clients and my family.”