I was going to title this post, “Traveling with a Child with Autism”, and then I realized it is SO much more than Autism we deal with. Although many of the “other” diagnosis are common to children with Autism.
First, comes the prep. Prepping your child for the changes that are going to come. What things are going to be different? What fun exciting things are going to come to offset those different things? What is absolutely necessary to take?
Bottles of Saline, Castile Soap, and Glycerine for his nightly Cecostomy clean outs along with spare MicKey button in case we need to replace it. Pull ups and inserts for the entire trip plus some extra in case of a missed flight or sickness, a tarp for when he wets through literally everything because no one else has a hospital mattress they can just wipe down. Do I bring the nebulizer or try to squeeze by with just the inhaler for his asthma while we are gone? The load of prescription meds I need to remember to put in my purse and not the luggage in case it gets lost. The service dog’s paraphernalia too… This is just medical supplies. I haven’t even started packing clothes yet.
Specific toys, books, and movies because we can’t guarantee they will be found where we are going and really no one wants to listen to the screaming that will ensue without said toys, books and movies. He ended up with the largest suitcase we have, stuffed with his stuff and half of his sister’s suitcase plus his backpack.
Helpful tip for other parents I learned this trip- If you put all the medical supplies in one bag without anything else in it, that bag is free on the airlines.
As we prepare for the flight I have to be very careful what I promise. Once I promised he would be able to sit next to the window. BIG mistake. We happened to have seats in the only row without a window. No one and I mean no one heard the safety instructions on that flight due to the meltdown that ensued.
R really gets the short end of the stick when we travel. Anytime we are on a plane with only 2 seats on a side, despite the fact that she is younger, she always has to sit across the aisle by the stranger. Going out to eat and her brother has a preference to where we should eat? Her brother will likely win because it will mean he will actually eat and we don’t have to listen to screaming that he is starving or he doesn’t like the food. Sometimes people with Autism will literally starve themselves rather than eat an offensive food. I do try to make it up to her when I can but I always feel like it is never enough.
Once there I will need to make a run to the grocery store to ensure he has the trifecta of food he will eat- Wheat Thin crackers, tomatoes, and pickles, to stave off the screaming when he doesn’t like or refuses to try the food we are having and is starving but nothing would induce him to put that piece of meat in his mouth.
Traveling with a child with Special Needs is not for the faint of heart. But in our case, it’s worth it for the opportunity to build relationships and stretch the ridged boundaries Autism places on our son.