Our family is getting ready to leave for a trip to Hawaii in a couple of days. Last week I asked readers to give me feedback on their tips for traveling with a special needs child.
“Bring lots of activities and snacks.”
“Plan the shortest route possible or a flight with the least amount of plane changes.”
“..extra snacks and make sure electronics have full charge with back up battery options”
“pack all of her sensory equipment, and some toys that she can play with, her favorite stuff animal, and her movies”
Someone mentioned involving your child in the planning, ie packing and picking out activities.
and my favorite, from my dear cousin: “medicate the mother with alcohol”.
Doesn’t sound much different from what you’d do to get ready for traveling with any kid, right?
Honestly, the pre-planning for this trip hasn’t been too much different from what it would be if Sabrina didn’t have special needs.
There have been some differences, and here’s one of them. I wrote up a simple social story for Sabrina:
I printed out the pages on my home printer, laminated them, hole-punched them, and used 1-inch book rings to hold the pages together.
Yes, I have a laminator at home. A while back I found myself tired of visiting Kinko’s in order to laminate her icons, and for an affordable price I can now get those projects (like this one!) done in the comfort of my own home. It’s easy to use and I love it. I keep it in my hall closet with my printer, extra paper, laminating sheets, and my new book maker. Here’s the one that I use: Scotch Thermal Laminator 2 Roller System (TL901)
We will be introducing this social story tonight. I also will be bringing another short social story that talks about the rest of the family joining us in Hawaii. I’m still working on finishing that one.
I’ll also be packing up a couple of chewys for Sabrina. She really needs oral motor sensory activities. She chews on her fingers, her hair, anything. She mouths stuff, she makes loud clicking noises with her mouth, she grinds her teeth.
I have found that this is her favorite chewy:
The Grabber Oral Motor Chew
However, she uses and tosses it, so I looked for something that can attach to her. I found this: Chew Noodle
Check out the carabiner at the end. I attach it to her shirt. It’s a bit awkward since you have the “pinch” the shirt, but it works for us. We also have this Chewable Turtle necklace, but she doesn’t seem to love it. I think it’s because it’s small and she prefers the long chewys.
By the way, as I was browsing items similar to the Grabber Oral Motor Chew, I came across these 2. I haven’t tried them, but they seem like good options:
ARK’s Textured Grabber XT Oral Motor Chew – Extra Tough
ARK’s Grape Scented Grabber XT Oral Motor Chew
We’re also packing Ear Muffs for when it gets too loud. They’re cute and my 3 year old is jealous because they’re pink.
Sabrina wanders, and she’s non-verbal. Besides telling people her first name and her age, she can’t give much more identifying information. A couple of years ago she got out of our hotel room at night (it was locked, but it was the kind of lock that opens when you turn the handle). Fortunately she didn’t go very far before we woke up to a security guard asking her where her parents were. Since then we’ve tried a few identification bracelets, but she gets them off. On this trip we’re going to try simple disposable wristbands. We’re using them for both girls: Disposable ID Bracelets by My Precious Kid. If you have any suggestions for safety bracelets or wristbands, I’d love to hear them- leave a comment!
I’ve heard a lot of people mention giving Benadryl to their child so that they’ll sleep. A couple of years ago when we were getting ready to take our last trip to Hawaii, I looked into this as an option. I discovered that it could in some cases cause hyperactivity, and I just didn’t feel comfortable giving it to her if she didn’t need it from a medical perspective. I’m not judging any of you who use it for the occassional trip- I just decided I didn’t want to.
HOWEVER, since Sabrina happens to get motion sickness, I felt completely comfortable knocking her out with some Dramamine. I did just that on that flight 2 years ago and she fell asleep about 5 minutes into the flight and woke up about 30 minutes before we landed. It mellowed her out enough during the boarding period so that she wasn’t freaked out. Once we landed she suddenly became refreshed and happy. Here are a few photos that I just found of her on that trip 2 years ago, right after landing. It was windy when we got outside, and apparently she thought that was hysterical.
I’m packing a TON of snacks, of course. I decided to go with pre-made goodie bags that I can just easily whip out and hand to the girls. I’m packing pretzels, cut up apple slices, cheese sticks, rice sticks, and anything else that I find that looks like it would entertain 2 little girls on a long flight.
All of this talk about packing reminds me that I have to go pack…