Whether it’s visiting new places or seeing family and friends, planning a vacation is exciting. Traveling with a special needs child, however, may present potential complications. Contact our office today to see how physical therapy can help you prepare your child for the best trip possible. The following are 10 tips for traveling with your special needs child.
1. Plan Ahead
It’s important to carefully plan your vacation as far ahead as possible. While many people love direct flights, this may not be ideal for a child with special needs. Having to sit for long periods of time could cause a child to become restless. Shorter flights with an hour or two layover may be the best choice. If you’re driving, make sure you’ve got more than one route to get where you’re going.
2. Talk With Your Child’s Doctor
Your doctor or physical therapist can advise you regarding your child’s physical and emotional needs while traveling. Make sure to have all prescriptions filled so there isn’t a chance you’ll run out of anything while on vacation.
3. Always Pack Extra
Buying items when you travel can be more expensive than bringing them from home. It’s always better to have a few extra of everything than not enough of something. Try to start packing several days before you leave.
4. Don’t Overdo It
It’s always tempting to do and see as much as possible when traveling. Your child may need to take breaks and even naps throughout the day. A physical therapist can give you advice regarding how much activity is healthy for your child to engage in throughout the day.
5. Pack a “Fun” Bag
Whatever items are your child’s favorites, make sure to pack these in a bag you’ll be able to have with you at all times. These could include games, coloring books and favorite snacks. A physical therapist may be able to give you some ideas regarding toys and items that will not only keep your child engaged, but help them physically, such as with fine motor skills.
6. Exercise for Relaxation
Your physical therapist can give you several exercises and stretches that will help your child relax wherever you are during your vacation. Physical therapy stretches that are designed especially for your child can do wonders!
7. Establish a Routine
Even on vacation, establishing a routine can help everyone feel more comfortable. Try to eat meals at the same time each day and have a set time for going to bed and getting up. Life is usually easier for a special needs child when life is predictable.
8. Expect the Unexpected
While you’ll want everything to be as predictable as possible, there will be things that won’t go as planned. It’s important to prepare mentally for the possibility that you may not see or do everything on your itinerary or that your child sometimes won’t feel well.
9. Plan at Least One Day Off After the Vacation
Whether you’re flying or driving, even the best vacation can be tiring. It’s important to have at least one day between the day you get home and the day everyone jumps back into their regular routine.
10. Visit a Physical Therapist
Physical therapy can provide special needs children with the tools to help them relax emotionally and feel better physically. A physical therapist can recommend simple exercises and stretches your child can do while you’re away from home.
A physical therapist can evaluate your child and provide a physical therapy program specifically for your child’s needs. Try to start a physical therapy program a few months before you travel. Call our office and schedule an appointment with a trained physical therapist today!