Some parents hesitate to travel with a child who has ADD or ADHD, but traveling with special needs children can be a rewarding experience for the child and the parents. With a little preparation, it is possible to have virtually a stress-free trip when traveling with your children.
People who plan to take children to educational destinations, such as zoos or children’s museums, should take the time to explain the exhibits to the child. Make sure that the child is focused on what is being said and explain what he or she sees, using short phrases. It is also helpful to ask the children short comprehension questions, just to be sure that they are getting the most from the learning experience.
Try to take the go to places where he or she can touch the animals or physically interact with exhibits that are especially designed for children. Areas that are targeted towards children will have displays that allow children to become involved in the learning process without fear of breaking an item. Don’t forget to tell the children the rules before traveling. Parents’ rules should be brief and direct, and the rules should be discussed in the few minutes that the parents are certain that they have the child’s attention.
Outside activities can be particularly beneficial when traveling with a child who has ADD or ADHD, because they give the child places to run, climb, or safely explore nature. For younger children, choose attractions with outdoor recreational areas when making travel plans. It is a good idea to brief the child on how to play with other children in these areas. Remind the child not to hit, kick, or touch others at any time, but especially when the child is feeling frustrated. Always monitor the child carefully in public recreational areas, never leaving the child unattended.
Parents and children with ADD or ADHD may find that road trips are particularly hard to handle. Give the child his or her favorite games, a DVD player, or music to help the child pass the time. Parents can also think of fun road games to play along the way to help keep the child occupied. Young children may enjoy having a few toys or dolls in the car. Be sure to use a variety of items to occupy the child during long drives or plane trips. Consider giving the child one item at a time to avoid overwhelming her.
Children in Accommodations
Parents should be sure to instruct the child of the rules for staying in a hotel or other accommodations. Try to childproof the room as soon as you arrive. Consider asking the front desk to take small electronic objects, including the telephone if that may pose an issue for a curious child. Children with ADD and ADHD thrive in a structured environment, so a change in the structure may cause the child to misbehave. Parents can emulate their home schedule as must as possible, but tell the child about any changes to the usual schedule in advance.
Think about the travel plans from the smallest detail to the biggest change and give some thought to how this may affect the child. Try to foresee issues.
• Will there be restrooms nearby?
• Will the child be able to have positive interactions with other children who may be at the attraction or destination?
• Will the parent have private time?
Some resorts offer babysitting for a fee, and some attractions have children’s clubs, which work well with all children, including those with special needs. Contact the attractions several weeks before the trip for inquiries. Parents should not be surprised if things that they thought were going to be an issue become unimportant during the trip. The child’s behavior and adaptability during the trip may be a welcomed surprise.