Traveling tips

by Susan
(Pittsburgh, PA)

My 4 year old son most likely has SPD and he is being evaluated in June for that and will hopefully qualify for occupational Therapy, but there is a waiting list. We are planning a vacation for Oct or Nov of this year. He does not like any changes in his routine, has never been on an airplane, etc. Any tips for me? His issues are mainly tactile (oversensitive), plus oversensitive to sounds and smells. I'm worried he'll cry the whole time on the plane and won't sleep in a different bed. I was hoping to be working with the OT for a few months before the trip. I wasn't expecting waiting lists.

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Jun 23, 2012
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thank you
by: Susan

Thanks for your ideas. I never thought about the potty. Those bathrooms are a little scary! We are going to Disney and probably will take a stroller, although he won't ride in one anymore, I thought just in case. I am going to buy earphones for him but I don't think he will wear them. He'll have has favorite stuffed animal. Plus, he loves gum so I'll buy him some at the airport to chew during take off. I read somewhere that eating foods that take a lot of energy to chew, like gum, taffy, carrots, can help calm a child. I've been trying to experiment with that to see if it helps when he gets overwhelmed.
Thanks.

Jun 23, 2012
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Airplanes
by: Anonymous

My 4 year old daughter has similar concerns with sounds and such. We have been on dozens of plane rides since she was born, and she generally does well. Supprisingly enough the sound of the engines is actually calming to her and she usually falls asleep. However, there are some things we always have with us: a favorite blanket and stuffed friend, a sippy cup- although she doesn't use them much at home any more, it is soothing, and the sucking can help with popping ears, ear muffs- the noise canceling kind that you buy at a sports store, and a portable training potty. The last one is odd since she has been potty trained for years, but the toilets in airplane bathrooms really freak her out. When we went to Dinsney World, a stoller was also a must. Not only did it give her a ride when she was tierd, but she could climb in and close the sun shade when she was getting over-whelmed.

May 24, 2012
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good point
by: Susan

Thank you. That's a good point. I was thinking just to use the game boy on the plane to keep him occupied and not scared. I know that's a long time to play a video game but there won't be much room for him to do anything else. I also read somewhere that if the gate next to you is empty to take a beach ball or tennis ball so the kids can play while waiting. I'm going to try that, or at least find a corner where he can run and do something other than sit. I do see some difference in him now that it's nice out and he can run and ride his scooter outside. My biggest fears are he will be scared on the plane and cry the whole time and he won't sleep in a different bed (at the hotel) even with his own pillow and stuffed animals. He just can't stand any change to his routine, although he is getting slightly better with this. I'm sure OT will help him tremendously, I just hope we get in!

May 23, 2012
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trip tips
by: Janice

I like all the suggestions so far, but the game boy might stimulate him too much - it might be hard to take it away when he needs to socialize. My son's OT says that for every 20 minutes on an electronic device or in front of a stimulating TV show, it is good to do 20 minutes of the large muscle activities to offset the stimulation. Your OT will give you some exercises to do at home - we have our 7 year old son do them before we go to the store, or before we go to a family activity. You could even take a DVD of kids yoga for a special time at the hotel! I have seen so much change in my son in the last 4 months with OT - as I hope you will - just in time for the trip!

May 22, 2012
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thank you
by: Susan

Thank you. Those are great tips. I thought I would take his game boy, he loves to play on that. I can still find games at some places so I thought I would buy him a new game. I don't know if he would wear ear phones but that is a good idea, especially with the sounds an airplane makes. We've been talking about the hotel and showing him pictures. I wish I could take him through the airport and see a plane but can't get through security without a boarding pass. At least it's only to Florida and we are getting a direct flight. Hopefully he'll get into OT before then and she can give me some more advice.
Thanks again!

May 22, 2012
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ideas
by: Anonymous

You're so wise to think of this NOW! My son has sensory and his sensitivities are similar to your childs. I would use heavy headphones for his ears (w/his fav music if he likes music or with no music - they just block a lot of sound).
Also - my son adapts to change better if we write out the schedule on a white board or chalk board together and discuss what each day will look like (in general). I think he feels more in control and generally accepts changes 'better!'
Take a bag of things for him to do on the plane - anything/everything (God knows ea item may only entertain for 2 minutes:). Also for your time away from the house (hotel or wherever) I would talk with your child in advance and discuss how it will be different environment and let him help you choose items to take with him that will make him feel more at home/comfortable (blankie, pillow, fav puzzle, snacks, et...)

Hope this helps a little - and your vacation in a success!

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