Autism and Airplanes

With summer approaching, many of us may be contemplating traveling with our children. Did you know you can call ahead and request bulk head seating on some flights when traveling with your child with autism? (I imagine this would work with most disorders and disabilities.) I do this every time we fly because my daughter kicks when she’s nervous. She swings her feet wildly from the edge of her chair. I simply called ahead, explained the situation and on every flight so far we have been preassigned the bulk head for the comfort of all the passengers on the plane. You lose the under-seat storage, but get more leg room and your child has the ability to play in the extra floor space during the flight.

Also, for children with auditory sensitivity, I recommend noise canceling headphones. They don’t have to be attached to anything to cancel the noise of the airplanes and busy airports. If your child is a wanderer or runner, I would suggest investing in a “baby leash” that comes with a wrist attachment. We didn’t use the “leash” (though my daughter loves wearing it because it fits tight to her body), but using the wrist attachment we were able to loop it onto the stroller in the airport. That allowed her to have some independent walking but she was never more than three feet from our stroller in the airports and parking lots.

For long car trips,  suggest plenty of activities that can be done in the car. Reading books and drawing, for those who don’t get car sick, is a great way to pass the time. Crayola actually has “lap desks” that store the crayons and paper right inside. For those, like mine, who do get car sick, I suggest a portable DVD player. Ours uses straps to attach the screens to the back of the seats. Each of our kids has their own screen and we’ve only had a few incidents of our daughter getting nauseous when using it.

Either way, you’re bound to need a restroom at some point. For all children, public toilets can be intimidating, even more so for kids with disabilities. I have a simple suggestion for handling automatic toilets. Post-It! That’s right! Those little stickered tablets can be used for more than quick notes and makeshift bookmarks. As long as the toilet sensor hasn’t been scrubbed with cleaner in the last ten minutes or so, the Post-It will stick right to the met, completely covering the sensor and “protecting” our little ones from “being flushed”.

Safe and Happy Travels!

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