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Traveling Tips for Families with Neurodiverse Children

Traveling can be an exciting yet challenging experience for families with neurodiverse children. Proper planning and preparation are key to making trips enjoyable and less stressful. In this post, we provide practical tips and strategies to help you and your child have a successful travel experience.

Pre-Travel Preparation

  • Social Stories: Use social stories to explain what to expect during the trip. Social stories are short, descriptive narratives that outline different aspects of the travel experience, such as going through airport security or staying in a hotel. These stories can help reduce anxiety by familiarizing your child with what will happen.
  • Practice Runs: If possible, do a practice run of the trip. Visit the airport, train station, or bus terminal in advance to help your child become familiar with the environment. Practice packing, going through security procedures, and boarding, so your child knows what to expect.
  • Involve Your Child in Planning: Involve your child in the planning process. Let them help choose activities and destinations that interest them. Providing a sense of control can reduce anxiety and increase excitement about the trip.

Packing Essentials

  • Comfort Items: Bring along favorite toys, blankets, or other comfort items that can provide a sense of familiarity and security. These items can be particularly helpful during transitions or when your child is feeling overwhelmed.
  • Sensory Tools: Pack noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, and other sensory tools that your child finds calming. These tools can help manage sensory overload and provide comfort during travel.
  • Snacks and Drinks: Bring a variety of your child’s favorite snacks and drinks. Familiar foods can be comforting and help manage hunger during travel. Ensure that you have options that are easy to access and consume.
  • Activity Bag: Pack a bag with engaging activities such as coloring books, puzzles, tablets with pre-downloaded games or shows, and other small toys. Keeping your child entertained can make the journey more enjoyable for everyone.

During the Trip

  • Breaks and Downtime: Schedule regular breaks to avoid overstimulation. Whether traveling by car, plane, or train, plan for rest stops or quiet periods where your child can relax and recharge.
  • Engagement Activities: Bring books, games, and other activities to keep your child engaged during the trip. Consider using apps or devices that your child is familiar with and enjoys.
  • Maintain Routines: As much as possible, try to maintain your child’s daily routines, including sleep, meals, and activities. Consistency can provide a sense of stability and comfort. Check out our latest post on on routines for neurodiverse children here.

Destination Considerations

  • Research Accommodations: Choose destinations that offer accommodations for neurodiverse guests. Look for hotels with quiet rooms, access to sensory-friendly spaces, and staff trained in autism awareness.
  • Create a Safety Plan: Have a plan in place in case your child wanders or becomes overwhelmed. Identify safe places to retreat to and discuss strategies for calming and reassurance. Make sure your child has identification and emergency contact information on them at all times.
  • Prepare for Transitions: Transitions can be challenging for neurodiverse children. Use visual schedules, countdowns, and clear communication to prepare your child for changes in activities or environments.

With careful planning and consideration, traveling with neurodiverse children can be a rewarding experience. These tips and strategies can help ensure a smoother and more enjoyable journey, allowing your family to create lasting memories together.

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The LEC opened in 2016 to provide high-quality, multidisciplinary evaluations for children ages 4 through 21 living in the greater Denver community.

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