Holiday Travel Tips for Families With Special Needs Children
Any time that a family with children decides to embark upon a traveling adventure it can be a bit of a challenge. That’s because kids are full of energy, kids are unpredictable and kids have certain needs. This is especially the case when it comes to special needs children.
If you’re planning a holiday trip to see the grandparents or even just to go to a new city for a change of scenery, although there may be a bit more planning (and patience) required with your special needs son or daughter, with the right steps in place, you can still have a wonderful and relaxing time. Here’s how:
Accept your reality. Whether a child has special needs or not, a lot of times parents will find themselves frustrated simply because their children are not doing what they want (or expect) them to do. The reality is that with kids, things aren’t always going to happen just as you would like them to and the sooner that you accept that fact, the more prepared you’ll be for whatever surprises or minor conveniences that may happen along the way.
Thoroughly pack and plan. If you’re heading to a family member’s home, then they usually know what your child needs. However, if you’re headed to a hotel or resort, call ahead and speak with the staff or a manager about what kind of accommodations your child will require from a wheelchair ramp, to bathroom rails, to even special kinds of meals that may need to be prepared. Also, make sure that you once you arrive, you also get acquainted with the employees so that both you and them will feel more comfortable with any “on call” requests that you may have as well.
Be patient. If you’re someone who is a big scheduler, you’ll definitely want to let up on that a bit while traveling with a special needs child. In just about every instance from loading up the car and eating in a restaurant to taking them to different places and getting them ready for bed, you are going to need to add anywhere between 15-30 extra minutes. Also, remember that when a special needs child is in an unfamiliar setting, they may need a bit more attention and reassurance in order for them to feel safe, so allot time a bit of additional time for that too.
Sit in a corner table in the back. Your child may use an electric wheelchair or one of those electric mobility scooters or you may carry them in, but when you’re eating at a restaurant, request for a corner table in the back. This is not for the sake of the other people eating around you so much as your own peace of mind. In that part of the restaurant, there tends to be more freedom for your child to mess up the table as they eat, to make loud sounds and also for you to not have to move their mobility devices out of the way of so much “traffic”.
Don’t be self-conscious. Anytime people see something that they are not necessarily used to, they tend to react in a myriad of ways. They may stare. They may point. Their own children may yell out things that they see. Remember not to take it too personally nor allow anyone to have you so focused on the fact that your child has “needs”, that you lose sight of just how “special” they are.
Image source: allparenting.com