Air Travel Tips While Flying with Developmentally Disabled Kids
Flying can be a stressful time for most travelers and when it is about traveling with a special needs child, the stress level reaches to another level. Parents who need to travel with their developmentally disabled child are quite worried about fulfilling their special needs on board. It is quite challenging for such families. However, today the situation has received greater awareness and airports and airlines are taking steps to make the journey comfortable and memorable for these families.
We have shared a few helpful air travel tips for families with developmentally disabled kids.
Install the Off We Go App
The Off We Go: Going on a Plane App is kind of a digital book that stores various fun and exciting experiences for kids. It can keep a child engaged for hours on stretch in an intellectual way. The digital books help kids in various activities which otherwise might have been a little overwhelming for them. It is an effective key if you are flying with an autistic child or a kid with intellectual disabilities.
Connect with the TSA
The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has got a 24X7 helpline known as TSA Cares where one can call to get their queries about screenings and procedures at the airport resolved. Dial 1-855-787-2227 and get the answers or you can even request for TSA Passenger Support. The will get you in touch with a specialist for the same who is specially trained in screening special needs passengers. The TSA also provides accommodation to families traveling with a special needs child. If you are planning to go on a trip with the little one who is differently abled, your child will be screened without removing the shoes and will be seated in a separate room until the screening is done.
Take part in the Wings for Autism Event
If you have a child with autism or intellectual disabilities or flying with medical conditions, going to ‘Wings for Autism’ event can help. ‘Wings for Autism’ is a special event – airport rehearsal for parents traveling with their special needs child. It offers a practice run – the parents rehearse the entry at the airport, the screening and boarding a flight – everything exactly like at the airport. The program is highly beneficial, not just for the parents but for the airline employees, airport staff and TSA screeners as they also improve their communication skills.
Learn about your airport’s services
Getting inspired by the ‘Wings for Autism’ trend, several airports are adapting different ways to develop their service for families with special needs kids. They are developing unique stimulation ways of their own. Some of the notable programs by popular airports in the US include:
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
They schedule ‘private-dry runs’ for the families. You can reach the ADA office for advance booking.
- New York International Airport (JFK)
They have developed ‘Blue Horizons for Autism’.
- San Francisco International (SFQ)
‘Ready. Set. Fly.’ is their program to help in air travel with special needs child.
- Minneapolis St. Paul International (MSP)
‘Practice Makes Perfect’ is a monthly stimulation program offered to a traveler in need of an airport rehearsal.
- Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
Have all the documents
Ensure having all the documents that offers complete information about your kid’s diagnosis, in case anyone questions you. This conscious effort can save you travel day stress.
Do not let go the advantage of boarding first and be wise in selecting a seat
The parents privileged to pre-board the flight should be very careful while choosing an airplane seat for special needs child. Most parents feel it is safe to be on the front seats but the experienced parents recommend sitting in the last rows, as far as possible from the flight entrance. This helps you to have quick access to the washrooms, the flight attendant station is close and the best part is you can disembark last without getting through the chaos of deplaning.
Keep things familiar
Make the child feel home. Have a separate bag packed for him or her. Pack all the toys that can be with the kid throughout the journey. Get the favorite snacks in the bag and also put some new items for variety. Do not forget to take a tablet with a couple of entertaining movies. We would also suggest you to have a change of clothes for both you and your child.
Along with these air travel tips for families with developmentally disabled kids, airports are also taking initiative to provide better and special accommodations to parents with special needs kids.
Have a safe and stress-free trip with your little one.