If you happen to be traveling this holiday season, I want to give you some tips to make your travel as enjoyable as possible for everyone in your family. I often have parents ask me about the best way to travel with their child with special needs. Also, there may be concerns about taking their child away from their home environment and out of their comfort zone. These are all normal concerns as a result of the busyness and sometimes stress the holidays can bring.
Give your child advance warning about any upcoming trips and use this as an opportunity to get your child excited about the trip. Let them know how long you will be gone, where you are going, what you are going to do there, what you will see, etc. The more “heads up” we can give our child the better we can make them feel about the trip as we are eliminating as much “fear of the unknown” that we can.
Stick to the routines that you have at home and try to keep consistent mealtimes and bedtimes. At a subconscious level, the consistency of routines helps us feel comfortable as we know what to expect and it allows our brains and emotions to relax and stay calm. This may not always be possible due to travel schedules and other family member’s schedules. But by keeping our routines consistent – especially mealtimes and bedtimes we will be helping to decrease everyone’s stress and anxiety.
Pack comfort items for your child – favorite books, blankets, snacks, toys, etc. Your child may occasionally become upset with the change of routine and any new places you are going to. Providing them with some of their preferred items will help remind them of home, and help provide them comfort and support.
Happy Travels and I will see you soon!
Michael Jankowski, MS, OTR/L
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