Saturday, August 1, 2009

Traveling with kids with special needs

"Don't be shy in coming forward at the Check in or Security when it comes to telling people you have a child with special needs. We get there early, but approach a member of Airport staff and tell them that the kids 'don’t do queuing' and they generally help us through."

That's just one of the great tips on traveling with kids with special needs from a post by Hammie, a cool Irish chick who's a newcomer to this blog; she has two kids with autism. I've done exactly what she has at security—Max gets wigged out by the crowd—and they always let us go to the front of the line. And we call the hotel ahead of time, if there's a kids' club, to make sure they can accommodate Max. That's what we did for our Disney Cruise, and they were beyond fantastic.

Like Hammie, we've found portable DVDs to be lifesavers. They basically mesmerize the kids for most of the plane flight, which is ever so much better than drugging them, don't you think? And I pack little gift bags filled with cute stuff I find at the dollar store, and then Dave and I have so much fun rummaging through them. Hee, hee, they're for the kids.

Max is especially fond of eating on airplanes. Every so often, he'll do his motion for eating (hand to mouth) and then he points to the sky and says "air-plane!" And I'll ask, "Max, you want to eat on an airplane?" And he'll nod vigorously and say "YES!" I pack lunches in those disposable Ziploc plastic containers and the second we get on the plane, he wants to eat his.

I've also found it handy to pack the children IN the wheeled carry-ons, the best way to transport them around the terminal.

Is it becoming increasingly clear to everyone that I am getting very loopy and am sorely in need of a vacation? We're actually going to Hersheypark in a few weeks, right before Max gets stem cell therapy on August 25. Can someone please explain to me how it is August already? I just don't understand.

Now, by all means, share your own travel tips!

Photo by Edward Dullard


  1. Thanks for sharing those great tips! For the most part, Daniel was made for traveling. He travels better than his parents do, in fact. One tip for parents of children with hemi/CP is to let them get out plenty of energy right before the long haul. We've found that if we don't let Daniel run around and use all of his muscles right before a long trip, we risk dealing with stiff muscles and a very cranky little boy when we reach our destination. Most airports have a play area for young children - take advantage of it before a long flight to work out those "lefty" (or "righty," or "all of the above") muscles!

  2. Those are fantastic tips! And I don't understand how it's August already,

  3. When are you coming? We have season passes and would love to meet you but we are leaving for our vacation on the 20th, so I'm guessing we won't be here when you are - bummer!

    You can go to guest services (just before the main entrance) and talk to them about Max. For some of the more popular rides, they have a card that the operators can fill out a time for you to come on; but most of the rides you could just go to the exit and get on pretty quickly. We always make Michael wait in line, though, mainly because we usually go when the park is less busy.

    You can ask for ice water free at any place with a soda fountain. And don't miss the fun little ride in Chocolate World (free samples!).

    I hope all goes well with the treatment. Have a great trip!

  4. Thanks, Jo! And thanks for stopping by, Marinka!
    Trish, wouldn't you know it, we will be at Hershey on the 20th! I will use your tips to navigate the Park. And just the thought of Chocolate World has made me gain two pounds. :)

  5. Ah Thanks so much for the share Ellen. Yep, we are off on our hollyers soon. We had to cancel this year's pre-season trip as the local council had stiffed us on a disabled persons housing grant. We had our attic converted, so we now have a pretend bedroom for getting Bratty to sleep away from our neighbors wall (Bratty screams a lot) and she has her real bedroom full of toys and distractions. It saved our sanity/marriage/freedom from jail (for murdering horrible neighbors) but the council having approved the grant - stiffed us when we had built the room and paid the builder.
    Fast forward 8 months of all the things you did with the insurance company and YAY! we got it Friday. Now we have booked a post-season 2 weeks in Spain.

    That's my other tip. Travel out of season if you can. It's quieter, a bit cooler and you get better deals. Ok, you have to take the kids out of school, but whatta they gonna miss? Algebra??
    Nup, plenty of O.T. and physio in the swimming pool, plenty of social skills signing "HI" to the lovely man at the pool Kiosk/ice cream stand.
    oh, and if you are there out of season - the locals like you better!

    Bon Voyage Family Max!

  6. Seriously about the August thing--how did that happen?

    I wish I had more tips for traveling, but Charlie was quite small the one time we flew with him and didn't really seem to mind. I just informed pretty much everyone that he wasn't going to go through the metal detector because he has magnetic device in his head and they were super-accomodating.

  7. I think the longest trip my little wise guys have taken is three hours by car! They've never been on a plane and we have always stayed pretty much close to home. I like some of these ideas though, they're good to keep in mind if we ever find ourselves in a position to go around the world in eighty days, or something!

  8. My boy is MADE for travelling too. He adores it. The biggest problems we have are with mobility at boarding and disembarkment time. I've learnt (the hard way) to arrange a wheelchair in advance to be there at boarding and to always speak to staff at the gate as soon as you get there as well as wording up onboard staff as well.

    In fact, I think it's best to advise airlines ahead of time too. I make a point of getting them to write a note when making a booking. MOST check in staff are lovely, but not all, so it can be helpful if there's already a note on the booking.

    We've been lucky enough to often be placed next to an empty seat (if there is one!) so the kids have a little more room to 'spread out' once up in the air and near (but not too near) the toilets.

    Some airlines will let us take BC's kaye walker on board (it fits in most overhead compartments) but others won't :-(.

    We also do the 'lucky dip' of cheap little toys to keep amusement up...

    Wow. I need a holiday too ;-).

  9. AAAAHHHHH, Vacation!!! What's that? Last one we had, I called a few weeks in adv. and spoke with the manager. I explained about Faith and she got us the first rm closest to the pool, parking lot and lobby! They upgraded us and they got everything ready for us, even checked us in early! Usually if I call ahead and ask to speak to Mgmt. they are accomidating. The worst was a yr ago. We stayed at a resort hotel on the beach and we got there at like 10pm only to find out that the elevators were broken and we only found this out after climbing 10 flights of stairs w/ Faith in her stroller and our luggage! Not to mention the lights in the stairwell were not working! So one of us had to run ahead and open the next door to have light!LOL! When we got to the rm, they were willing to move us but we had to pack back down 10 flights of stairs! When we pulled out of our parking spot, I was so mad I backed right into a column w/ our brand new car! No more trips to Myrtle beach!!!LOL! Thanks for the post, ELLEN!

  10. We bring our wheelchair and carseat with us on our trips-- Connor feels much more comfortable if he's in his own seat rather than a strange airline seat.

    We always check at the desk to see if we can get an upgrade to first class. There's A LOT more room up there, which is very nice. Bulkhead seats are the best.

    We try to schedule at least one extra day at the beginning and end of the trip so that Connor, who has a difficult time with transitions, can settle into a new routine and become accustomed to the surroundings and sleeping arrangements before he has to cope with a lot of people or activities.

    Finally, we always make sure to let Connor's doctors know we are leaving. We carry extra prescriptions for all of his medications, a medical history, and the phone numbers of all of his doctors and hospitals with us. He has a bracelet he wears that points EMTs in the direction of his diaper bag in case there's some reason that I can't give them that info.

    Hope you have a wonderful trip!

  11. What great tips. Thank you so much for sharing!

  12. I hate flying with the kids because of the treatment through security. I thought I was gonna get arrested one time as I was swearing at them. I had asked for wheelchair assistance, but because I had a double stroller they didnt think I needed it. HEllo...yeah during security they were yelling at me to close my stroller. Try to explain I have 2 hands and 2 kids, one that cant stand on her own and the other who is only 2 ....all I can say is GGRRRR! Oh yeah and then try boarding the plain with two kids and a carseat with out wackinga few people along the way as nobody is helping...yeah this is why we drive the 15 hrs to visit family or go on vacations. We want to go back to hawaii with the kids this time...but have been putting it off because of flying.


Thanks for sharing!

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