Archives for March 2014

10 websites that may help you with your vacation.

Digital tablet computer with sticky note paper and cup of coffeeWe’re not trying to compete with Google or Bing. There are, of course, a huge number of sites out there that may help you. What we are giving you here is a selection of sites that don’t always rank highly with search engines or that you might not even think to include in your search.

You may find that only some of them help in your unique situation. That is why we’ll tell you a little about each. We hope that you’ll find something that truly helps you among them.

In a previous post (Which flight? Which Seat?), we suggested that it might be wise to reserve your seats with a family member seated directly in front of your spectrum child. This way you’ll be sure that any kicking of that seat won’t create an upset with a stranger. This site also points out some “undesirable” seats. For example, too close to the bathrooms – possible crowding, loud noises from flushing etc. Take a look at: By the way, it also comes as an iPad app.

We love the book Flying to See Janet by Laura Vickers. It is a 30-page visual story about the whole flying experience and it also has 3 pages of good, solid tips for parents. It isn’t just us; this has received great reviews from others too. Find it at: .

The CARES Airplane Safety Harness, which was designed for children between 22 and 44 lbs, has now had a special version approved for use by kids, teens and adults with special needs. This is their homepage: . Look for the CARES for Special Needs button.

We have posted before (Airport Practice Programs) about how wonderful these are. You get the chance to practice checking in, going through security and boarding a plane. Since this is, probably, one of the biggest concerns for parents who haven’t yet flown anywhere with their child, it is a great way to test it out at zero cost. Of course, these programs aren’t everywhere yet but the National ARC is gradually rolling the program out across the country. Their site is: .

If you don’t get the chance to practice via one of the programs above, you can still get help from the Transport Security Administration (TSA). Their site can be particularly helpful in letting you know what to expect and what special arrangements are available to you. Find them at: .

Once you’ve cleared security, you still have to navigate your way around the airport terminal. It may help to know which food concessions are located where and what other facilities are available. This site may not be able to tell you whether play areas are suitable for your child but it will show you where they’re located. Also look for areas where there are very few facilities. Those areas should be quieter. One word of caution, some of the airport maps take quite a bit of work to get all of the information that you might want. Look at:

In another of our previous posts (Protecting Sensitive Ears), we spoke about EarPlanesTM . They help to reduce the discomfort from cabin pressure changes. In order to do this they have to be inserted into the ears. Obviously, they will only be of any use if your child can tolerate this. You can check out their site at:

Once on board the plane, wouldn’t it be nice if you could give your child a protective screen to reduce the impact of some unwanted sensory issues? There will be something, soon. Check out the Sensory Shield. It is still in the prototype phase but should be available in the near future. Take a look at: .

If you have worries about your child’s safety in a strange hotel room you might want to check on the Travel-Tot Safety kit. Although it was designed with the safety of toddlers in mind, it sometimes works well with spectrum kids that are well beyond being toddlers. Why? Because most of the kit requires fine motor skills and executive planning skills and these are areas where our kids are frequently delayed. If that, kind of, applies to your child, this will be worth a look: .

Many parents voice their concerns to us about their child’s behavior being misunderstood by strangers and the accompanying stares and “tut-tuts”. If this is your concern, you might want to take a look at: . Some people are never going to understand what we go through but this might just make a few of them less judgmental.

We said, at the beginning, that this was just a small selection. We know that you’ll find others. When you do, please let us know about them. We’ll then be happy to share those with everybody.

4 People who can help you prepare for your vacation.

Team Of Business People Working Together On A LaptopWe are not talking here of the obvious people like your travel agent (you expected us to say that, didn’t you?) or Guest Services (airline, cruise line or hotel). This is, after all, the travel and hospitality industry and our/their entire job is to help you. We are speaking of some people that you might not otherwise think of.

Your child’s physician. You shouldn’t need a doctor’s note for requests like a room in a quiet location because your child doesn’t do well with loud/strange noises or you want a room that is well away from food establishments air vents because your child doesn’t like strange smells.  Your request should be good enough on its own.

Where you will need help is with things like a note saying that an EpiPen® is medically necessary or that medications in liquid form need to be in containers above the 3 oz limit. In fact, if your child has pretty much any co-occurring medical condition, you may want to tell their doctor about your plans in order to anticipate needs while you are away.

Your child’s Special Ed teacher. This is somebody that should know your child well and understand how they deal with new situations. We’ve had Special Ed teachers ask us for pictures of a destination so that they could help by preparing a visual story. Ask your child’s teacher if they could do this for you.

You might also ask them to build something into your child’s studies in advance. Can they make your trip relevant to social studies? Can they relate it to new people and different cultures? Can it be related to their history lessons? That’s distinctly possible for some locations. Think, for instance, if your trip includes Washington, DC.

If your child’s teacher is willing and prepared to help, the sky is the limit. (Pardon the pun.)

If your child has an Adaptive Phys Ed program, talk to the teacher/coach that works with your child. Tell them about recreational activities at your destination and ask them to be involved in preparing your child for those.

Your child’s behavior therapist. One of the biggest concerns that parents voice to us is the fear that their child will have a meltdown caused by an unforeseen event/situation. Your behavior therapist knows your child. If you walk them through all of your plans, they should be able to help you prepare in advance. That preparation may involve how to avoid some situations or how to deal with other situations as they arise.

Maybe the therapist needs to find out more about particular elements of the trip. Does this have HIPPA implications? Are they allowed to have a conversation with your travel agent or the guest services desk at your hotel? Ultimately, HIPPA compliance is a matter for them. That said, there is no reason for them to disclose information to the service provider about your child. They should be able to ask as many questions as they need to and still not contravene any regulations.


Your child’s music and/or art therapist. To an extent, the thoughts here are much like those for a Special Ed teacher. If your child does music therapy, can the therapist suggest music/iPad apps or anything else that might help?( Do be aware that even if they recommend that your child plays the cymbals to pass the time on your flight, that other passengers may not share that opinion!)

If you child does art therapy, can the therapist suggest some easily transportable art supplies that your child can use? If your child’s teacher couldn’t or wouldn’t help with a visual story for the trip, it is possible that an art therapist could do this for you.


In summary. You have many/some/just a few supports at home. To the extent that you have them, try to engage them in your plans. Your child is still your child whether they are at home or half-way around the globe. And, of course, ask your travel agent for help. That’s always a good thing.