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Traveling with Children Who Have Special Needs
Family vacations can be a joyous time for all involved and can create lasting memories, especially when shared with those you love. However, traveling with children who have special needs can be quite a challenge as it requires extra preparation, care and understanding. With the right preparation and attitude, traveling with special needs children can be just as fun and just as memorable as any other vacation.
Planning ahead is the key to having a successful family vacation when traveling with special needs children. Do your research ahead of time and find out what accommodations, such as ramps and special areas, are available for your special needs child. Ask about meal options and activities that are suitable for your child. If possible, try to visit the destination ahead of time and explore the area so that it doesn’t come as a surprise during the vacation. If possible, find a hotel/resort that provides particular amenities needed for your child.
Notify Accommodations of Your Needs
If possible, notify the air travel, hotels, and places of the accommodations you need ahead of time and make sure that the staff there have had special training in helping people with disabilities.
Be Flexible and Have Low Expectations
It’s more important to have fun rather than to try and do everything. Have a flexibility in your plans- keep activities to a minimum, build in time for naps and have a backup plan when things don’t go as planned. Not every moment is fun, but it doesn’t have to be all about “ticking of the box”, or forcing an activity or destination against what your child needs.
Seek Out Support
A helping hand is always valuable, whether it comes from an expert or from someone who has traveled with children with disabilities. To give your child the best chance of success, consider finding a travel companion who is experienced in assisting children with special needs.
Be Understanding and Have Patience
It is important to be understanding and patient on any travel trip. This rule holds especially true when it comes to traveling with a child who has special needs. Children with special needs may have extra medical needs, so be sure to equip yourself with the proper medical supplies and medications.
Prepare Your Child Ahead of Time
Allow some time for the child to get used to the idea of traveling. Get the child comfortable with the objects and people that the child will encounter during the trip. Talk about what to expect, the places to visit and the fun things you’ll do.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
Be prepared for any kind of emergency situation, both medical and otherwise. Have emergency numbers, contact information and medical information readily available. Stay calm if something happens and be prepared to handle it.
Traveling with special needs children can be both a challenge and a fun adventure. With proper preparation and understanding, you can ensure that the trip will be a success. The key is to keep things flexible and don’t focus too much on fulfilling a full itinerary. Instead, it’s important to focus on enjoying the moment and creating lasting memories for your family.