You may be traveling to visit family or for a vacation away from it all! Planning ahead for your child with sensory processing issues can help the child feel safe and confident as well as give your family an opportunity to make fond memories on a great vacation together.
Understood.org is an excellent resource for children with learning and attention issues. A timely article is 10 Tips to Help Kids with Sensory Processing Issues Avoid Travel Meltdowns. These are good, common sense ideas for any child but particularly useful when you want to help your child.
1. Pack a backpack with the familiar things that you know help him calm down. If you have it near the child, it is easier for him to reach the things himself. Some believe that the heaviness of the backpack is good for him also.
2. Pack the shampoo, soap, and even towels she is used to using at home.
3. Practice the trip. For an older child with sensory processing issues, this might mean merely looking at the map and discussing the trip. For younger children, this might include listening to the sounds of an airplane engine, watching a video of an airplane both inside and taking off. The TSA experience also may be a source of distress. Talking him through it and practicing what will happen can be important.
4. On a car trip, stop for frequent breaks. Some children may need a rest, others may need to get out and kick a soccer ball.
5. Plan for extra time. If you are frazzled, your child will sense it.
6. In an airport, look for a quiet corner to wait for your flight. Too much activity and noise may overwhelm your child.
7. Plan for your airplane boarding options. Some children may do well to board early, others later. Perhaps the seating assignment you get will help–bulkhead or aisle seats.
8. Give your child the opportunity to try on any new clothes he may have to wear on the trip. For example, if you are going to a warmer climate, make sure he knows about the different clothing he will be wearing. You may allow him to select his own clothes to take if that helps.
9. Bring along familiar foods. Or shop for your own when you arrive. Even if you are a house guest, you can purchase foods you know your child will want.
10. Follow the same bedtime routine as at home. If your child is cranky at night, stop travel early. If she is cranky in the morning, don’t get on the road too early.
**11. Take his or her violin along!
“While we try to teach our children all about life, they teach us what life is all about.” Angela Schwindt (homeschooling mom)