Tips For Flying With a Special Needs Child

Airplane travel can be challenging for everyone, but it can be especially challenging when you’re traveling with a child who has special needs.

One of the biggest challenges of air travel is a lack of control. We can plan, but we can’t predict when a flight might be delayed, or when a connection might be missed. You have to be ready for anything. Here are some ways that you can minimize stressful situations when you fly this summer:

1. Plan for the kids.

First of all, when you plan your trip, remember that what’s best for you and what’s best for your child aren’t always the same things. For instance, you may prefer one long, nonstop flight to get to your destination. As an adult, you know how to manage yourself on a long airplane flight. You know what you need to do to stay as comfortable as possible.

Our kids might have more trouble on long flights, though. Sometimes travel is easier to manage if the flight is broken up into shorter flights, with a long layover. Even better if it’s a long layover at mealtime! This can be much easier on the kids than a long flight with no break.

2. Bring a bag of tricks.

However long your flight is, plan enough activities to last for the whole time. One thing we love to do is to make up a “Bag of Tricks.” We get several new toys and items we know the kids will love, and that they’re not allowed to touch before the flight. Then we can pull them out, one by one. This is a great idea for keeping kids occupied.

3. Charge up the electronics.

Of course, you can also use electronic media, such as iPads and iPhones. If your flight doesn’t have appropriate in-flight movies for the kids, you can download full-length movies to the iPad or iPhone before your flight. Just remember to make sure your devices are all powered up before you leave, and that you’ve packed your chargers!

If you have special concerns about traveling with your child, please talk to your clinician. They will have lots of ideas for you! Have a great flight!


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