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Cathy and Dominic - Special Needs EssentialsHi everyone! Today Cathy from Bountifulplate shares with you her autistic son Dominic’s experience with flash cards! Cathy is a homemaker/wife and a mother to a 10-year old son with Autism and ADHD, an 18-year old daughter who is a college freshman and a stepson who is 30. Originally from Maryland, she has lived in the Midwest for 13 years.

When Special Needs Essentials sent us the “ready, set, abc,” flashcards as well as the “ready, set, 123,” flashcards for Dominic, I was so excited!  As a parent, I instantly loved the size and durability of the cards, as well as the sturdy boxes to hold them in. Wouldn’t these be awesome to tuck into your child’s backpack for a long car trip or plane ride? I know I will be doing that for our upcoming 10-hour car ride to Maryland!!!  Dominic didn’t talk until he was over three and even though he will be 11 at the end of July, he is still behind his typically developing peers in speech. I plan on using both sets of flashcards in continuing to encourage Dominic to speak in complete sentences!!

Here are the flash cards used by Dominic:

ABC touch and feel flash cards - Special Needs Essentials 123 touch and feel flash cards - Special Needs Essentials

Flash Cards ABC - Specia lNeeds Essentials ready set 123 - Special Needs Essentials


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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