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Why when I write the words vacation do I immediately hear   “The Go-Go’s?”

But it is that time of year!  Time for many to take that summer vacation.

And let’s be honest, vacations take A LOT of planning to accomplish.  From the lodging to travel to packing.  But add in the issue of special needs to the mix for many of us and that adds a whole new layer!

My daughter Elizabeth has special needs.  Specifically, global dyspraxia and sensory processing disorder ( SPD).  So simply put, these disorders affect everyday of her life.  We have learned over the years what it is we need to do to make  vacations successful.  It does take some extra thinking and planning but it is so very worth it. Read the rest of this entry »


Traveling with autistic children is daunting enough since they still need routine and structure. Vacationing brings quite the opposite, so we’ve come up with a few words of wisdom to remember the next time you take a road trip or a plane ride with your autistic child.

Family vacation - Special Needs Essentials

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare
Prepare with your child weeks in advance. Particularly if traveling by air, you’ll want to repeatedly go over the process, from leaving the house to checking in, going through security, waiting, boarding, fastening seat belts, and so forth. Managing your autistic child’s expectations is the most important part of going away, no matter what method in which you choose to travel.

2. Should you fly
Flying? Call your airline in advance, and notify them you’ll be traveling with an autistic child — they should allow you to board early. Some airports even have special autism access programs that allow autistic children to go to the airport days or weeks in advance for things like mock boardings, which will help your child to become more comfortable and familiar with the entire Mother playing with her son - Special Needs Essentialsairport process. Don’t forget to plan the meal in advance with the airline as well as seating arrangements. Pack your eating aids if necessary. Try to book bulkhead seats so there’s more room to move and less possibility of feeling claustrophobic.

3. Should you drive
Driving? Drive at night to lessen outside distractions and help give your child more peace of mind. Along with educational and entertaining DVDs, don’t forget to bring along a pair of headphones for every child — and a pair for mom or dad wouldn’t hurt either so no one is forced to agree on anything. We also recommend arming yourself with plenty of activity kits and toys you can simply throw in the backseat.

4. Undecided destination?
Autistic child outside - Special Needs EssentialsIf you haven’t chosen how you’ll vacation, consider a simple camping trip. Most trips require a lot of outside distractions with theme parks, getting around cities, and so forth. And while those trips are ones your family can’t avoid forever, break it up a bit by going camping sometimes too, which allows you to concentrate more on one another. Free from the go-go-go feeling of most vacations, a camping trip keeps the focus on the family and makes it possible to watch your autistic child more closely. Bring headphones in case there’s noise from neighboring campers, and research what campsites have close-by bathrooms and activities for children.

5. Things to pack
No matter what you decide to do, you might want to pack these items when traveling with your autistic child.
Disposable wipes
Sensory toys
Activity kits

Good luck! And don’t hesitate to share your experience in comments…

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