Traveling can be stressful, but with some preparation––especially if you’ll be flying––you can make your trip successful and memorable. Here are some tips to consider:
Before going to the airport, read social stories to your child. Social stories help prepare your child for what’s expected when they get to the airport. You can learn more about social stories on this website or on the PBIS World website.
If your child is ready, you can discuss things like what the experience of the ticket counter and the security check might be like when you get to the airport.
Try to book flights when your child is the most able to handle a change in the routine.
Make sure you pack everything that your child will want or need in a carry-on bag. This should include:
It is helpful to include the social cue cards or visual aid showing how many hours you have traveled and how many you have left.
It might be a good idea to get a letter from your doctor describing your child’s condition, especially if your child has an invisible condition. Sometimes it can be helpful to show this letter to the airport security or flight attendants.
You can also visit TSA special procedures to learn about their process and services for travelers with disabilities. This is especially important if your child uses a wheelchair.
Contact your airline to make any special travel arrangements, like seating.
You can avoid stress of boarding by telling the ticket agent about your child’s disability and asking for a pre-boarding pass. This allows you and your child plenty of time to board, find your seat, and store your luggage.
Traveling and taking trips with the family are some of the best memories that any child will have. Doing a little bit of preparation and research before the trip will make traveling go much easier.
For additional tips on outings with your child, checkout the Navigating Daily Life – Parenting Children with Disabilities on this website.
Before I had my son, I was a special education teacher. I was one of those teachers who believed that these "special" kids needed to be kept safe. After teaching in a self-contained special education class, my views slowly started to change.