As if traveling isn’t stressful enough already, try it with someone with special needs. Flying holds a great potential for a huge melt down to occur.
However, one of the number one things we strive for in the special needs community is to allow our kids the ability to do anything and everything that could bring them happiness. So here’s my tips for flying with the type of environment and security required in the USA:
Give plenty of warning to your kiddos on what’s going to happen and how it’s going to happen.
Select a time for the flight that you know you kid can comply with.
Make sure that your carry-on is stocked with anything you might need on the plane for your child (ex: food, medication, back up medication, entertainment, etc.) Really think this over, don’t just throw it all together at the last min.
Now before reaching the airport, go over again with your kiddo what is going to happen. And vividly go over what security is going to be like.
Be sure you have their ID and ticket as well as yours in hand when you get to security.
Security lines can be lengthy sometimes. So be prepared to provide your kiddo with an intervention of some sort that will keep him occupied while having to wait. Like the game I spy, or a song (my next blog will be on transition songs and other good distraction songs).
As soon as you get to the security check line, make sure you have your things good to go through the scanner and get your self ready for inspection as well as your child. Talking them through the whole process. Taking off shoes could seem weird to them so maybe practicing “airport” at home before hand might be a good idea.
The scanner they have at my airport requires you to stand in a certain position, once again this can be difficult for our kids. But practicing before hand could make this possible, or just having a conversation with security. They have the ability to do something differently.
If you are concerned that your child will wander during security scan and you have two people (yourself and another companion) you could have one of you go first (a model for the kiddo) and then send the child into the scanner and then going your self. Or once again just ask security to make sure they don’t wander while your being scanned.
Next you will transition and put back on shoes and get your things. This could seem weird to your child and they might get angry. Transition song or intervention might be a good idea. As well as of course, preemptively talking to your kiddo about what’s going to happen.
Once you get to your gate, talk to the attendance for your flight. Most airlines have accommodations to make sure you get a seat together as well as being able to board first.
Before the flight make sure your child has eaten, gone to the bathroom, and is stable. And enjoy your flight :-).
If you’re highly concerned about how your kiddo will be during the flight, you can talk to your child’s physician to be prescribed for a melt tablet (or whatever you know will work for your kid) that will allow them to sleep on the flight.
I know that this sounds like a lot of steps but it is completely do able and after the first time, it will be a lot easier for your kiddo. The first times the hardest and then it’s cake from there!!