Traveling with Kids with Special Needs -- How Can You Prepare?
Family vacations can be the best of times and the worst of times. Seeing new places, enjoying quality family time, and experiencing fun adventures can bring families closer and create lifelong memories. When it is hard though, it can be tough on the whole family - kids, parents, and everyone else.
Today, we've rounded up two of our favorite articles with tips and tricks for traveling with kids with special needs, to help you prepare for and create the vacation of your dreams.
1. TRAVEL LOGISTICS
Mom to a kiddo with Autism and Sensory Integration needs, Cynthia Carr Falardeau shares her favorite tried-and-true tips for travel with kiddos who have specific sensory needs in her article: "Travel Tips for Parents of Children with Sensory Integration Issues" in Parenting Special Needs Magazine.
Our favorite tip from Cynthia is to create a visual schedule or story outlining and depicting the trip's schedule and details. Here at IDS, we LOVE using visuals to help children within our Behavior, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy sessions. Using a visual schedule or visual booklet that includes daily routines, bedtime, and special events will help your child understand what to expect.
Making stories and schedules can be easy. Just copy pictures from the internet of your hotel, the places you'll be visiting, and even include pictures of people your kids will see if you're planning to visit family on your trip. This way, your kids will feel comfortable with some of the things that are coming next. If you've planned any of the days specifically, share the schedule of the major things you'll be doing with your child. And, once you arrive at your chosen vacation location, you can help your child by using a visual schedule for the smaller pieces of each day too - what to do in the morning before you head out the door for your daily adventure, the bedtime routine, etc...Giving your kiddo a 'heads up' for as many pieces of the day as you can will help to offset those other times of day that you have no control over, like standing in line or waiting for the group to go to the next location!
2. RESOURCES AND TOP PLACES TO GO:
If you're just getting started with planning a fall (or spring if you're in the Southern Hemisphere!) getaway, this article from Trip Savvy will be a perfect resource for you! This article shares everything from travel tips from pros to specific travel agencies geared at creating a perfect trip for your child with special needs.
Our favorites are:
SPECIALGLOBE.COM - As author and mom of a child with special needs puts it, she designed this website as a "place to offer travel tips, advice and destination ideas to other amazing parents heading out on the road to explore with their kids."
ASDVACATIONS.COM - Our special needs travel agent will help you with planning your trip to an autism-friendly-resort or an autism-friendly-cruise and will customize your vacation around sensory issues, special interests, special dietary needs and the dynamics of your family.