12 Holiday Travel Tips for Families with Special Needs
By Guest Blogger Sara Croft, Media Relations and Marketing Manager, Easter Seals Crossroads
End of year holidays often require traveling to visit friends and family who live far away. Spending many hours in the car or getting on an airplane can be challenging for families with special needs. Easter Seals Crossroads in Indianapolis has compiled tips from their behavior analysts, therapists and respite providers that can help make holiday traveling a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
Before the airport:
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- Make sure you pack everything your child might want/need in a carry-on bag, including a change of clothes. Create a sensory pack with their favorite calming toy, stuffed animal, object or blanket. Sensory items are a great relief for kids who may become anxious due to first time traveling and fear of the unknown.
- Discuss what the experience of the ticket counter and the security check might be like to the child before you arrive at the airport. You could simply talk to the child about it, discuss it with them, or use social stories to aid in the explanation.
- Make sure you call TSA Cares at 1-855-787-2227 at least 72 hours before the boarding the plane to ask any questions you may have. A TSA Passenger Support Specialist can be requested to provide on-the-spot assistance. The TSA has a helpline for individuals with special needs. (https://www.tsa.gov/travel/passenger-support)
- Try to book flights when your child is generally the most able to handle a change in routine. For many children this may be in the morning when they are not tired and overwhelmed from a long day.
- Ask your doctor for a letter describing your child’s condition especially if your child has an “invisible condition” such as autism. It might be helpful to show documentation of the disability to airport security or flight attendants. Visit the TSA’s website and print the disability notification card that you can present at the TSA screening. (https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures)
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