Best Tips for Traveling With Special Needs Kid

All children need to experience the joy of adventure. And certainly, special-needs children are no exception to that rule.

It's empowering for parents like Molly David, whose daughter, Reagan, is 22 and has severe disabilities, to break the stereotype that their children are unable to live full lives.

David has always taken her daughter on family outings, since she was a baby. “It has allowed Reagan to be fully part of our lives. It never occurred to us to not travel with her,” David says.

Dawn Barclay is the author of Traveling Different: Vacation Strategies for Parents of the Anxious, the Inflexible, and the Neurodiverse (Rowman and Littlefield, 2022) and the special needs contributing editor for InsiderTravelReport.

Start Small

Preparing thoroughly helps to ease your child's anxiety and prepares them for the trip's new experiences. According to Barclay, the following tips can help you prepare in advance:

Make Preparation

Ultimately, the trip should be about your child; as such, Barclay emphasizes allowing them to have a say and considering their choices and interests when deciding where to visit. She suggests the following ways to make this happen.

Create a Child-centric Vacation

According to Jared Kiddoe, child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist, many special-needs kids, including those on the spectrum, have significant environmental sensitivities to light, smells, touches, and sounds.

Yes To Noise-canceling Headphone

“The gentle sounds and smell, not to mention nature,” Kiddoe says, can calm even the most behaviorally challenged child. He adds that being in nature also exposes children to sunlight, which helps build Vitamin D, an essential element in helping to fight depression.

Connect With Nature

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