I am not someone who typically uses YouTube a lot.  That honor goes to my 12 year old son, Michael.

But I have found  myself using it more and more often recently.  Why?

Because we are going on vacation and when you have a child with special needs, planning a trip can pose challenges that others with typical children will not have.

So I am using YouTube as a visual way to show Elizabeth where we will be going on our trip, some of the rides we hope she will go on and some of the things she will see.

Elizabeth’s Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Global Dyspraxia affect her life everyday.  So on vacation where there are so many new experiences and events, the stress that these new events bring can really overload her nervous system.  And this can make these disorders really show themselves.

We are planning our first trip to Disneyworld this year. Yup, the happiest place on earth is our destination. Will it be that for Elizabeth? I am hoping so, at least let it come in on the top 10. Oh, I did not mention we decided to fly for the first time in our children’s lives.  Yeppers!  This will be a vacation of firsts!

Using  YouTube, is one way to help her succeed in these new experiences  because something I know is that showing her what she will experience, telling her what to expect, what we are planning to do and what she can do if she is overloaded helps so much.

So here are 3 easy tips for your next family vacation…


Once you start listing things, you may be surprised just how much there is to talk about but here are a few I am using.

That there may be long lines. That is may be hot. That there will crowded.  That we will be going on rides.  That there are places to sit when you are tired or need a break. That there are places to eat that she will love.  That some rides move fast, others slow.  That it is okay to ask for a break. ( this last one is one that has been taught)  That the plane will be loud.  That you will have to take off your shoes at security…..


I know, I know what days we are headed to the park and which days we are swimming.  I know when our plane lands and when we are going to get groceries.  So I make sure to tell her what I know and to put it down on her planner for her to look at whenever she needs to.  This helps her to plan for events and to make the transitions easier.  This way we can talk then through and help her prepare in advance.


This is something that is of great importance because with SPD and Dyspraxia, these times to regroup help them so much.  Allowing their systems to calm down helps them enjoy the events around them.  For Elizabeth it is a quiet place. Maybe some music, maybe a heavy down blanket.  But whatever it is for your child, making sure it is available and planned for is the key thing.

In Disney?  I know there are quiet spots that are designated on a map.  Elizabeth will bring small headphones and use them as she listens to music and regroups….if needed.

I think understanding what your child needs, how they need it and how you can help them plan for it will make any experience more positive.

Will Elizabeth suddenly go into the darkest ride there is?  Probably not.

But will she ride some rides, have fun and make memories?  Our thought is Yes!

I will let everyone know how the trip went when it is in the rearview mirror.  We are going in mid July.

So  I hope some of these special tips are helpful to others.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti

author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister”