Traveling with kids is tough. Traveling with kids who have special needs or considerations because of sensory processing disorders, ADHD, or autism adds new dimensions to the difficulty.
Flying with Children Who Have Sensory Processing Disorder and Similar Special Needs
There are a variety of things you can do. First, make sure your child is well fed and slept before the flight. Bring snacks along to occupy your child and satisfy his or her hunger. Bring along a weighted blanket or vest to help comfort or calm your child. Plan for distractions.
The longer the flight, the more distractions you may need. This can include things like fine motor skill activities, tablet or laptop games, movies, and even coloring books. You will get best results if you schedule your flights during your child’s normal sleep time, so your child can sleep during the flight.
Making the Trip More Manageable
It’s not all about what will happen on the plane. When you’re traveling there is a lot of waiting. Flying. More waiting. Flying again in many instances. Finally arriving at your destination.
It’s enough to make the most patient of adults go more than a little mad. When seeing it through the eyes of a child with sensory issues, it can lead to a total meltdown. That is why preparation is the key to survival – for all parties.
- Give your child plenty of warning. Explain the schedule of events and let him know what to expect so he can prepare mentally and emotionally for a challenging event.
- Stick to the schedule whenever possible. Routine changes are upsetting enough for children with sensory processing difficulties. Changing the new schedule without warning can make them feel out of place.
- Be attentive and look for cues that your child is having a challenging time. Respond accordingly to accommodate the needs of your child.
Working with a pediatric occupational therapist can help you plan your travel so that it causes as little disruption for your child with sensory processing disorders, ADHD, or autism as possible.