Nine Ways to Accommodate Kids with Autism while Flying

Nine Ways to Accommodate Kids while flying pin

Airline travel is a stressful experience for any family. For a family with children with autism, however, there are many aspects to airports that are not autism-friendly by default. To help mitigate problems, parents need to be proactive in both contacting the airline and preparing themselves. Here are our nine tips for accommodating children with autism while flying.

Nine Ways to Accommodate Kids with Autism while Flying outside

Register for TSA Precheck or Global Entry

Registering in the TSA precheck or Global Entry can help make the airport screening process much less intrusive for a child. Both programs allow children to keep their shoes or jackets on through screening. They also don’t have to unpack their electronics or small liquid containers. While waiting in the screening line, parents should explain their child’s special needs to the TSA agent. They are fairly compassionate, patient, and accommodating when they are aware of the situation.

Nine Ways to Accommodate Kids with Autism while Flying line

Ask for Bulkhead Seating

When booking a flight, parents should ask the bulkhead seats or aisles for additional room and accessibility. If there is no availability for bulkhead seating, they can always try to trade with someone else if they are lucky enough to find a compassionate fellow traveler. This occasion may be another instance when parents speaking candidly about their child’s special needs and being their advocate may pay off.

Nine Ways to Accommodate Kids with Autism while Flying seating

Order a Special Meal

Many jokes are made about the food served on flights, all with just cause. Most airlines serve unhealthy, stale food that barely equals cafeteria fare and with little to no choice. When flying, parents can request a special meal that addresses their child’s dietary needs. Though not all airlines can accommodate all requests, most will try. Specially requested meals are better suited for a child’s needs and are served first which means a kid with autism won’t have to wait a long time for his or her meal.

Nine Ways to Accommodate Kids with Autism while Flying food

Ask for Wheelchair Assistance

Parents should look into requesting wheelchair assistance at the airport, especially when they have a short layover time to navigate between terminals. Trained Airport staff can help carry luggage and guide families to the right gate so no one will get lost and wander aimlessly. Many kids with autism who do not have mobility issues can still benefit from a wheelchair in instances when they need to be contained and monitored.

 

Nine ways to accommodate kids with autism while flying wheelchair

Get a ScotteVest

Buying a ScotteVest might be the best idea for families since one can wear all items needed for the flight and have them readily available at all times. The 42 pocket vest allows parents to carry a large number of valuable items through TSA. The items in the vest are also not counted as luggage or carry-ons. Furthermore, the Scottevest will allow one to have passports, ID’s, cash, and boarding passes at their fingertips. It also helps prevent pickpocketing.

Nine Ways to Accommodate Kids with Autism while Flying crowd

Invest in a Wi-Fi Hotspot

Getting a hot spot to use around airports might be the best $10 or $15 parents can spend to keep their child occupied. The hot spot allows kids to stream movies or go on the internet while waiting calmly for the flight.

Nine ways to accommodate kids with autism while flying counter

 

Travel with Carry-On

Parents should try to travel with only carry-ons if at all possible. It is cheaper, more efficient, and helps to keep track of belongings while lessening the chances of anything getting lost or stolen. If families only need one carry-on per person, they may want to consider packing an empty backpack inside their carry-on. This way, when they purchase or acquire things on the trip, they can fill up the backpack and return with a carry-on and a personal bag.

Nine Ways to Accommodate Kids with Autism while Flying seating

Pre-Book Transfers

Parents should arrange pre and post-flight transportation to their destination to avoid long and frustrating waits for cabs. If using a transfer service or shuttle service, parents may want to alert them ahead of time that they will be traveling with someone with special needs. This way, the cab service can shorten the wait time if possible.

Nine ways to accommodate kids with autism while flying luggage

 

Download the Airline App

Parents should download multiple apps on their cell phone or tablet for their child to use while waiting at the airport. There are many educational and game apps that are free or almost free, and there are many apps now specifically for children with autism. Furthermore, parents should download the airline app for access to in-flight entertainment. They should take a portable charger for all electronic devices to juice them up during the flight if necessary.

Nine ways to accommodate kids with autism while flying app

Have you taken your child with autism on a flight? What are your tips?

 

Ten Questions and Tips for Families Flying with Autism

10 Questions and Tips for Families Flying with Autism pin

Flying can be a stressful experience filled with lots of complicating factors. Families with autism will likely run into problems adjusting to the often confusing, overstimulating environment of an airplane. Not to mention that most airlines do not have the ability to provide every accommodation, so parents are often on their own. The following is a list of the top ten most frequently asked questions from parents traveling with their children with autism that we get at Autistic Globetrotting, with answers that should hopefully make your next trip with your kid much easier.

1. My son won’t keep his shoes on during flights. What can we do?

Take his shoes off when you first board the plane and place them under the seat in front of you. You could also bring a special bag to put them inside of, and then store them in the overhead bin. If you take them off when you first board you can prevent him from taking them off and throwing them or possibly having a tantrum because he cannot get them off easily in the cramped quarters.

 

2. My son loves buttons. I’m afraid he’ll continually press the buttons on the airplane. Is there any way to mitigate this?

Explain this to the flight attendant when you first board the plane. Also bring a small toy that has a lot of buttons. A familiar or fidget based toy should distract him before he becomes inquisitive about the ones next to him. There are many fidget toys you can find on places like Amazon, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find something that will keep your son focused.Ten Questions and Tips for Families Flying with Autism food

3. My daughter is a picky eater and hates airplane food. How should we make sure she’s not hungry?

Bring her favorite snacks on the plane. I highly suggest feeding her before you board, maybe even before you get to the airport if you know there won’t be anything she likes in the terminal.

 

4. My child gets frequent stomachaches/headaches; should I pack meds or do they have them on board?

They cannot dispense medications on the plane. It would be wise to bring your own OTC medications before you board, or ask your doctor about taking them prophylactically before boarding.

5. I’m always reluctant to ask for pre-boarding as others might judge me or make nasty comments. Is this something I should worry about?

Ten Questions and Tips for Families Flying with Autism overhead

You should, by all means, ask for preboarding. Since you will be among the first to board, you likely would not hear any rude or ignorant comments anyway. Furthermore, many disabilities are invisible in nature: diabetes, seizure disorders, heart failure, and others. It would be only out of pure ignorance that someone would judge you for looking out for your child’s special needs.

6. My teen stims and keeps kicking the seat in front. In one instance someone almost hit him. How can we prevent this from happening?

Ask for a bulkhead or aisle seat and insist on one if possible. Should you not get the seat you requested, carry autism information cards with you to inform your seat neighbors. If your child truly makes the flight unpleasant for the person in front, you could offer to buy them a cocktail or internet service while in flight, with a sincere apology. Kindness goes a long way!

Ten Questions and Tips for Families Flying with Autism sitting

7. My toddler is scared of loud noises. Where should we sit on the plane?

First of all, bring noise canceling headsets if possible. Second, the front of the plane is the least noisy. Avoid sitting right over the landing gear or in the far back at all costs.

8. My son needs a lot of personal space. What do I do?

Unless you can afford to fly in first class, your options are rather limited. Bulkhead seats do provide a bit more room, so we would recommend booking those. You can also have your child sit in an aisle seat for more legroom, but make sure that they don’t accidentally trip people walking through the aisles.

9. My kid always spills his food on himself and around us. How can I prevent it?

There is no way to cure clumsiness, but you can practice at home by playing “the plane game” before you leave and by modeling safer ways to move cups and liquids. You can also pack a small, plastic Dollar Tree table cloth and use that over your lap and theirs. Should something get spilled, you can toss it or ask the flight attendant to dispose of it. Also, alert the flight attendant of your child’s tendency and ask them to fill their drink low. Keep the can or bottle on your tray table, not theirs, between refills.

Ten Questions and Tips for Families Flying with Autism seats2

10. My fear is sitting on the tarmac when the plane gets warm, as my son is heat intolerant. How do I help my child stay comfortable?

If you know you will be traveling during hot weather, pack some wet wipes or moist towelettes. You could also pack an empty baggy and right before boarding you could stop at a restaurant in the airport and ask for some ice cubes to place in the baggy. The baggy can be used as a cool compress or your child might find it soothing to suck on ice cubes. Also pack a small, hand-held, battery operated fan to help keep cool.

We hope these answers helped you and your family feel a bit more at ease about your next flight. If you have any questions that weren’t covered here, we would be happy to answer them personally or on our Facebook page. Even if you have a small incident, don’t let it deter you from traveling. We wish you safe and happy travels!

Debunking Autism Travel Myths

I regularly meet parents with kids on the autism spectrum who have serious misconceptions about traveling with traveling with autism.

I can relate to those who have tried to travel with their child and encountered mishaps, but what I find most alarming is the high percentage of parents that base their decisions on other people’s stories or even Internet misinformation.

Since our website, AutisticGlobetrotting, is about to celebrate its third year of existence, I thought it would be helpful to debunk some of these misconceptions once and for all in the hope this might inspire or even encourage some of you to go ahead and finally plan that summer vacation you’ve been dreaming of.

Debunking Autism Travel Myths globe

 

Planning travel with an autistic child is time -consuming and expensive.

The essential element in the planning stages is notifying the airlines, cruise lines and hotels of your child’s disability, and decide what accommodations you might what to request.
You can usually ask for most accommodations by e-mail, which makes it cheaper and faster, particularly if you should need to contact people overseas. From my experience, most companies in the travel industry will try and provide the necessary accommodations at no extra charge.

Always remember to store your correspondence in a file on your computer, and then send a gentle reminder to all the people you’ve contacted a week before your day of departure, in case they forgot about you.

Debunking Autism Travel Myths florence

The TSA treats autistic travelers and family badly.

Over the years, the TSA has come under fire for causing unnecessary stress to many families; especially those traveling with special needs kids.
We’ve flown over 200 flights in the last decade without an incident; simply by letting the agent know upon arrival at the airport that our son was autistic and that I would be accompanying him to the checkpoint.

This month the TSA has come out with new guidelines for autistic travelers that include allowing kids to stay with parents during the check, and that parents or caregivers may advise the agent on how to proceed with the security check depending on the child’s particular disability.

Debunking Autism Travel Myths christchurch

Flying with a child on the autism spectrum is a nightmare.

No, not usually.
Although flights may not as traveler-friendly as they used to be, it is still doable. All you need is to notify the airline in advance of any accommodations like bulk or aisle seating, pre-boarding( so that you can get your family settled faster) and wheelchair assistance if you have to navigate between terminals in the larger airports.

Remember to pack a snack or two for the flight and keep your kid busy with movies, video games, books on tape, or coloring books just like you would do at home or on a long car ride.

Debunking Autism Travel Myths paris

My child will not be comfortable in a hotel room.

Since most kids with autism thrive on routine and familiarity, the best choice for hotels would be sticking with one or two chains such as Starwood, IHG, or Marriott because they tend to design their layout the same way in each hotel worldwide.When booking a hotel room, you should ask for a quiet room away from noisy areas like elevators,
restaurants, and conference rooms and on a high floor if you are staying on a busy street.

Some hotels offer hypoallergenic rooms and pillows, too.If you know that your family won’t feel comfortable in a hotel setting there are alternative lodging options like apartment hotels or private home rentals from companies like Airbnb you can book that are even more budget friendly.

Debunking Autism Travel Myths italy

I hate it when my child acts up and everybody stares.

Now this issue is one that we can probably all relate to and understand; however, it shouldn’t deter you.
I remember my public speaking professor telling our class at the beginning of his course that the trick to speaking in front of a large crowd was envisioning everyone in their underwear.

You should keep in mind that most if not all people watching you and your kid don’t  actually ‘know’ you, so you shouldn’t care much what they think about your parenting skills or your child’s behavior.And the silver lining is that mastering the art of ignoring disparaging remarks or looks from strangers will not only make you a better parent but is bound to teach your kid a much-needed life skill as well.

Debunking Autism Travel Myths london


Five Lessons Learned from Bad Flight Experiences

Like in life, there are both good and bad experiences in travel.
The savvy traveler needs not only to enjoy the good times but to learn valuable lessons from the bad ones.
In our case, traveling with an autistic son can make one stressful incident cast a gloomy tone on the rest of the day—sometimes even longer. So, we try our best to learn from them and apply our lessons as fast as possible to prevent future recurrence.
Here are some of our worst experiences and what we learned for our future travels.

 

Five Lessons Learned from Bad Flight Experiences plane

 

 

Missed Connection:

Back in 2006, we flew with United Airlines from Los Angeles to Amsterdam with a stop in Chicago. Since the airline arranged the flight with the connection included, I assumed that everything would work out perfectly. I was wrong. Like many other air travel companies, United provides minimal time between flight connections, so even a small delay can wreck the entire schedule.

Our flight from Los Angeles International Airport was delayed for thirty minutes due to technical reasons; this catalyst was pivotal to our future boarding woes. When we deplaned in Chicago, we immediately talked to a company representative, who assured us the next flight (a terminal over) would wait for us. However, after running insanely through the Chicago O’Hare escalators to reach the next terminal, we were told that even though the plane had not left, we could not board since “the doors had been already shut.” My special needs child had a major meltdown! The incident took us another twelve hours and a second stop in London until we finally reached our destination.

Lesson learned: always check your connections carefully, and do not accept connecting flights with less than two hours between them—especially when flying on international flights.

Sprayed on:

As we were flying back in 2006 from Paris’s Charles De Gaulle airport to Los Angeles, the flight crew began to spray aerosols in the airplane cabin (close to passengers). When I inquired as to why—many of us had just woken up from a night’s sleep—we were informed that the spraying was to comply with US regulations against mosquito-borne illnesses (the plane had previously landed in the Indian Ocean area). I was not happy; my son is asthmatic and suffers from multiple allergies. Unfortunately, it was too late to do anything about it.

Lesson learned: we always carry face masks in our hand luggage in case it ever reoccurs.

 

Lost ID:

Two summers ago, we were traveling from Los Angeles to Savannah, Georgia via Chicago, and I did not notice my wallet (with all our IDs) had dropped to the airplane dark floor during our first leg of the journey. I only realized the drivers’ licenses, and IDs were missing when we were trying to rent a car at the Savannah airport. By then, however, all we could do was notify the airline—in this case, United—and hope for the best.

Needless to mention, we had to alter our visiting plans drastically; instead of hopping in a car and touring Hilton Head for the week, we had to use expensive cabs to go from place to place. To add to our problems, without our IDs flying home was quite difficult! United, eventually, did come through for us, finding the wallets and promptly returning them (we had already come back by then).

Lesson learned (or two): Always get yourself a second form of government-issued identification (and pack both in two separate places in case one is lost), and get colorful containers and wallets to notice quickly on the airplane floor if dropped.

 

Place ID tags on carry-ons:

While most of us properly place ID labels on our checked baggage, not many put tags on their carry-ons—a huge mistake. On the rare occasions when I was forced to check my carry-on luggage (due to excessive weight or lack of overhead bin space) while it usually turns up on the carousel, I recall times—like a BMI flight from London Heathrow to Amsterdam—where it did not and was lost for good.

Lesson learned: tag your carry-on with your name and email address (or cell phone number), and photograph its contents while packing at home. Whatever you do, never agree to send your carry-on bag containing your child’s medication.

 

Pack a small travel scale:

In today’s world of low budget, low-profit airline companies, packing a bit lighter than the fifty-pound limit (in the US) can help save you on the excess baggage charges. While we are frequent and loyal customers to United (even having Premier status) and most airport agents are willing to let some small excess weight slide, we encountered two years ago a hardliner in Florida who was adamant about the fifty-pound limit.

Even though only one suitcase was 52 pounds and the rest were 46-48, he forced us to either reshuffle the bags (which we begrudgingly did) or pay the extra fee. The moral of the story is always to check the allocated weight published and make sure your luggage is not over the limit. Or you’ll spend your airport time either paying up or rearranging your bags on the floor.

Lesson learned: carry a small travel scale and distribute your luggage evenly so you don’t have some suitcases over and some under the limit. Additionally, pack everything in Ziploc plastic bags, so even if you have to reshuffle, everything can stay clean.

 

Ever had a bad experience with an airline?
How has that change the way you travel?

 

Budget Travel-Flying Air Berlin

We decided to give Air Berlin a try for two reasons: cheap pricing, and the fact they had the only direct flights from Tegel Airport to Berlin, Germany to the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Israel. The direct  flight route was of particular importance to me, as this was the first time when I was traveling with both my sons—without my husband—over the busy travel time of winter break.

Air Berlin does offer the possibility of booking pre-assigned seats, a feature that I took advantage of to ensure that we all had aisle seats for extra legroom.
I wasn’t too concerned about luggage weight issues since we only travel with ultra-light hand luggage. Additionally, I had prepared my autistic son, beforehand for the possibility that he might have to use his iPad for entertainment, as it was apparent the planes wouldn’t have personal screens.
Lastly, before departing from theStates, I did notify the airline a second time that I was traveling with a special needs child and would require pre-boarding.

Budget Travel-Flying Air Berlin aircraft

Air Berlin’s Check-In

Check in at Tegel airport in Berlin was exceptionally fast and efficient.Unfortunately, the concept of pre-boarding in Tegel is different than in the States as we soon found out—all passengers board a bus that takes everyone to the plane’s staircase.

So, our true accommodation was reduced to be simply getting on the bus that took passengers to the aircraft first, rather than boarding the actual aircraft. We got to rush from the bus door to the plane entrance as soon as possible in the freezing wind like everyone else.

 

 Air Berlin’s Onboard Experience

The actual flight was uneventful, excluding the fact that I injured my knee while loading suitcases in the overhead bin. And of course, the fact that crew was less than fast in bringing me much-needed ice or even asking how I was feeling.

I wondered how and if they would be able to handle an autistic meltdown if they reacted so nonchalantly to a common injury liked mine. To their credit, however, I will mention that they finally arranged an airport transportation vehicle to take us from the plane to the border control and luggage carousel at Ben Gurion (after seeing my swollen knee).

Budget Travel-Flying Air Berlin food

The flight on Air Berlin is very much a ‘vintage’ experience, complete with the old-fashioned two rolling boarding stairs sets. The seats were moderately comfortable configured three and three with minimal walking space and very low ceilings. We did see some people bump their heads while getting in and out of their spots.

The free sandwiches they gave us were pretty much non-edible, leaving passengers with one of two options: either buy something at the airport and bring it onboard or buy their food (which is quite pricey).

Entertainment was non-existent; so, choices to engage kids should include bringing personal electronics, books or board games. I ended up having had a lovely conversation with a German engineer who was taking his mom to visit Bethlehem and Jerusalem for Christmas, while both my sons slept through most of the four and a half hour early morning flight.

All in all, we wouldn’t recommend Air Berlin for autistic travel unless of course you had no other viable choice to make as the airline in its current format cannot accommodate travelers with autism well.

Tips to Avoid Airport Meltdowns for Travelers with Autism

 Part of successfully traveling with autism is the ability of the caregivers to foresee and prepare for those scenarios that can trigger those dreaded meltdowns.
Here are tips to avoid airport meltdowns that we have compiled over the years based on our past incidents.

Tips to Avoid Airport Meltdowns for Travelers with Autism lines

Meltdowns due to flight delays

#Try to book direct early morning flights that do not originate in any weather troubled zones when possible.

#Study your flight track record on Kayak.com to get an idea of the possibility of delays and remember to check the airline updates before you leave for the airport.

#Download a map of the airports ahead of time, so you get acquainted with the local amenities i.e. eateries, entertainment, and shopping.

# Pack (cord including for quick recharge) at least two favorite electronic devices such as Ipads, I-pods, Nintendo or other games for your child to use while waiting.

Tips to Avoid Airport Meltdowns for Travelers with Autism airport suitcases


Meltdowns related to food

#Download a map of the airport and decide ahead of time where, and if you are going to eat to avoid last minute arguments of the pizza parlor versus sandwich joint.

#If your flight is scheduled after 10 pm chances are you’ll find the airport restaurants closed so be sure to pack some necessary snacks like chocolate bars or cookies in your carry-on luggage. Although healthy fruit or veggie snacks might be a better choice, they can be confiscated in some countries by the agricultural inspectors.

#Always carry coins with you so you can use any available vending machines.

 

 

 

Tips to Avoid Airport Meltdowns for Travelers with Autism cafeteria

Meltdown at the TSA lines

#Decide ahead of time whether you want the x-rays screen or the more lengthy pat -down process. Bear in mind in mind that the pat -downs may not be the best idea if your traveler hates to be touched by strangers and might physically or verbally object to the search.

#If your kid cannot wait quietly or is too tired to do so, head on to the front of the line and ask the person responsible, whether any special needs’ accommodations can be made. Some airports do provide separate disabled and family lines, especially during rush hour.

 

 

 

Tips to Avoid Airport Meltdowns for Travelers with Autism x rays
  Meltdowns  due to connecting flights

#When making your reservation make sure you allocate at least one hour for domestic and two for international connections. Remember that flights to certain destinations may require additional security checking at their departure gate and that passengers entering the US clear customs and immigration at the first entry airport, both of which necessitate extra airport time.

# Also, always be informed of the exact time to be at the gate for your continuing flight and the nearest hotel to the airport in case you end up missing your flight.

#If you are running late, head on to the nearest airline representative and let them know you are in the airport, so they can notify the gate your next flight is leaving from that you’re on your way.

#Ask for special-needs assistance instead of attempting to run across the airport on your own saddled with all the luggage, especially if you need to change terminals.

Tips to Avoid Airport Meltdowns for Travelers with Autism gate

 Safety related meltdowns 

Here are tips in the event your kid runs off during the meltdown

#On the day of travel photograph or film your child with your camera phone before you leave the house. When my sons were younger, I used to dress them in matching bright colored t-shirts so it would be easy not only to spot them from a distance but to describe what one was wearing by looking at the other child.

#Teach verbal kids to approach ladies wearing name tags or in uniforms if they feel lost and get them memorize your cell phone number.

#When traveling with nonverbal children consider getting them to wear an identifying tag with your phone number and a description of their disability or even a portable GPS bracelet that can be easily traced.

#Upon discovering the child is missing alert the airport authorities, don’t waste precious moments searching on your own.

#Ask one family member to stay in the spot the child was last seen at, in case he/she returns.

#Insist the police distribute the autistic person’s picture immediately with a full appearance description and details of the disability.

#It is important to explain to the authorities how to approach your child when found, so make sure you include details of whether he/she would respond to their name, react aggressively, or object of being physically touched in the report.

STRANDED AT THE AIRPORT seats

 

Has your child experienced meltdowns in the airport ?

How does your family deal with them?

 


Occupying the Kids when Stranded at the Airport

When faced with a long-scheduled layover or an unexpected flight delay, travelers with autism, more than any other category of travelers can become increasingly agitated and apprehensive, requiring a plethora of activities to keep them busy and entertained.
Parents wishing to avoid the extra stress and occupy their kids if stranded at an airport should conduct a brief Internet research of the options available in and around each airport during the initial travel planning stage.

Occupying the Kids when Stranded at the Airport moving stairs

 

Have fun in an airport museum

Airport Museum construction is on the rise and presents a win- win situation for all involved.The airport satellite locations help institutions introduce their collections to a wider more diverse audience terminals supply their frustrated travelers with a unique way to kill time and kids get to have fun and learn something new.Outstanding domestic airport museums: Atlanta, Philadelphia and San Francisco while internationally the Rijksmuseum in Schiphol Amsterdam  Airport is a must see!
Many kids’ museums have satellite locations in airports, providing a sensory, hands-on experience for the younger travelers with autism along with much-required respite minutes to their caregivers.
Excellent  U.S. places to check are: San Francisco’s Kids’ Spot (in partnership with the Exploratorium), Boston’s Logan Airport Kidport (in cooperation with the Children’s Museum of Boston) and Chicago O’Hare Kids on the Fly  area (in collaboration with the Chicago Children’s Museum.)

 

 

Occupying the Kids when Stranded at the Airport FOOD

 

 

Take an airport tour

Another great idea that combines fun and education is a ‘behind the scenes peek ‘ that teaches kids and parents the logistics behind running a big airport. Many families with autism might find this informative tour fascinating, especially those dislike or even fear crowded airports.Noteworthy places in the US are  Cleveland and Tampa airports.
Most airports do require notice and an email confirmation process, so one needs to plan in advance.Some European airports like Frankfurt and Zurich conduct them daily and are easier to attend at the last minute.

Check out the Observation Decks

A once in a lifetime view of the airport grounds along with takeoff and landing runways can be enjoyed, by the aviation obsessed travelers with autism if you get to visit the few observation decks worldwide that remain open, despite the heightened security measures post 9/11.The more memorable ones are Bangkok, Thailand and the US’ Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina that has a beautiful park located near the air traffic control tower, where one can enjoy a ‘mini picnic’ while watching the takeoff and landing of the planes.

 

Occupying the Kids when Stranded at the Airport GLOBE

 

 

 Children’s Play Areas

In the US many airports like Nashville International Airport, Portland International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Salt Lake City all have area playgrounds, mostly inside to let that extra energy. It would be an excellent idea to put in some swings to further calm individual needs little ones.Our favorite is Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport with a sensory play area and rocking chairs in quiet areas that are perfect for kids with autism.


There are many International airports with well-planned kids play areas. Singapore Changi features the world’s longest slide, swimming pool, a movie theater and as many arcades as the eye can see.  Hong Kong International Airport has its individual aviation discovery center, i-sports complex and PlayStation Gateway Center by Sony.Auckland, New Zealand: If Singapore is the Mecca for indoor entertainment, Auckland is the ultimate destination in outdoor and back to nature pleasures with butterfly creek, just outside the airport,l equipped with a butterfly house, aquarium, insect house, crocodile exhibit and farm yard.

 

 

 

Occupying the Kids when Stranded at the Airport TEL AVIV PLAY AREA
Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport

See the city

Since many cities are relatively close to their airport, a short sampler tour might be a pleasant way to get introduced to a future vacation spot.Singapore’s airport leads the way by offering free colonial, cultural, or lifestyle city tours upon requestToronto, Amsterdam, and Panama also offer shorter versions.

 

Occupying the Kids when Stranded at the Airport SWISS EXEC LOUNGE

 

Go Geocaching

Geocaching is the twenty-first century GPS based treasure hunt with a twist. Individuals or groups hide caches all over the world, advertise the hidden location on the Internet and wait for GPS enthusiastic players to find the hidden item. The person/s who discover the item or items can get a variety of rewards, get to publish their ‘discovery’ on the web and are supposed to leave a treasure of their choice for the next Geo enthusiast.
Although we have never gone geocaching ourselves, some of my readers who have kids with autism swear their kids had fun looking for those caches and found the activity highly entertaining.

 

Try the local cuisine

Being stuck in an airport might become a golden opportunity to sample new foods your son or daughter with autism might not have dreamed otherwise of trying. Here are some of our ultimate US  favorites.

In Miami; Kafe Kalik famous for its conch fritters and Bahamian foods and La Carreta serving their famous Cubano sandwich, with roast pork, Swiss cheese, and pickles.In Albuquerque: Garduno’s Chile Packing Company and Cantina with its mouthwatering green chiles, machaca enchiladas, and honey-drenched sopapillas.Boston’s Logan Airport has three Legal options: Legal’s Test Kitchen for people on the go, Legal C Bar full menu plus beer bar, and the traditional restaurant and San Francisco features Boudin’s Bakery known for its sourdough bread since 1849.
However, if the food does become a point of contention and a reason for a meltdown, head on over to the nearest McDonald’s.

 

Occupying the Kids when Stranded at the Airport LAS VEGAS SLOT MACHINES

Spas

Sometimes a flight delay can become that golden opportunity to brush up on the basics of personal hygiene give your kid with autism, a much-needed haircut, a manicure-pedicure combo, or get them to relax with a massage before the next flight.


Room for the day

Our ultimate favorite is getting a place for the day and resting a few hours at a nearby property. This way everyone in the travel party can shower, sleep, watch TV, or work on the internet. For many kids with autism a quiet place away from the airport, the bustle is a great way to regroup and relax.There are many hotel properties, to choose from in most major airports, either part of the airport complex or adjacent but connected with walkways, like the Hilton in Chicago O’Hare or Sheraton in Frankfurt, so make sure you call them up directly and ask for their day rates.

Occupying the Kids when Stranded at the Airport WHEEL CHAIR ASSISTANCE

 

Have you ever been stranded with your kids in an airport and found a way to occupy them?  Share it with us!

 


30 Tips For Flying With Autism

 

 

30-tips-for-flying-with-autism

Since so many of you have approached me over the years asking for help flying with autistic kids, I thought I’d share my top 30 tips for flying with autism.

 Tips for Booking

  • Always try to book nonstop flights that start early in the morning to bypass midday delays!
    If you are booking, connecting flights make sure you have plenty of time between flights for bathroom breaks and food purchases.The minimum time to connect in the US is  45 minutes for domestic travel since aircraft doors close 15 minutes before takeoff, and  1.5h for international as aircraft doors close 45 minutes before departure.
  • Become acquainted with flight details, the point of origin and codeshare rules.
    Flights that originate in other than your embarkation airport could be subject to CDC or FDA regulations you might not know about. Our personal example was an Air Tahiti Nui from Paris to Los Angeles we took several years ago. During the flight, the crew sprayed some insecticide all over the cabin (including us) in mid-flight.It turns out the flight had originated in the Indian Ocean island of Reunion where they had experienced a severe outbreak of mosquito-carried Dengue Fever and according to US regulations all flights from there needed to be sprayed.
  • Know what type of aircraft you will be on since seating configurations vary between the different airlines and air crafts.
    Check the seats before booking on Seatguru.com and avoid booking  seats in the wing area (extra noise), back area  (a lot warmer and stuffy) as well as  near galleys or bathrooms (smells.)
  • Ask for bulk seating especially if your child stims.
    If the airline denies your request, look into purchasing Economy upgraded seats for long haul flights to make your kid more comfortable.
  • Never seat your child with autism in the middle seat where he or she can’t stretch –put them in a window seat or aisle seating with extra space.
  • When traveling as a family of three or more, consider booking two seats in the front of two other seats putting an adult family member in front of the traveler with autism, to avoid complaints from fellow travelers of the seat being continuously kicked.
  • Booking two consecutive rows might prove priceless on long haul flights for a different reason- if the entertainment sets break down in one row, you can move your kid to the next row and avoid a meltdown over not being able to watch a movie.
    If your kid is on a special diet, mention it at booking time!
  • Most airline companies offer fast food kids’ meals as a food option that is not only a kid pleaser but will also guarantee he/she get their meal among the first on the flight.
  • Ask your booking agent for pre -boarding assistance if your kid tends to wander, and you are traveling with no help with several suitcases.

  • 30 Tips to improve flying with Autism seats

 

Packing Tips

  • Don’t forget disinfectant wipes to clean the food tray and your child’s hands after those bathroom trips.
  • Chewing gum or candy is always helpful for landing so make sure you pack some!
  • If your child needs a blanket or pillow on the flight, consider purchasing your own washable and lightweight set.
    In today’s world, there are more passengers than pillows and blankets on planes and those available might not even be that clean.
  • Take an extra set of clothes (including underwear) in your carry-on for you and your child to quickly change into should a food or beverage spill occur.
    Many times the plastic cups and silverware the airline provides end up on the floor, broken into sharp pieces.So, if your child likes to walk around the plane with no shoes bring a pair of nonskid socks to protect their feet.
  • Bring headphones and ear plugs along to block unwanted noise and always pack an extra set in case they break.
  • Make sure you bring a tablet or phone to entertain your kid -along some airlines have started removing their entertainment systems on the planes altogether.
  • If your child takes daily medicines take them in your purse for easy access during the flight.
  • Discuss with your doctor what to do should your child become agitated during the flight and ask for his/her recommendations.
  • We carry two natural remedies for our son-Valerian to help with relieving stress and Melatonin to help with sleep and jet lag issues.

 

Tips for the Airport

  • Make sure to get to the airport early and allocate enough time to go through the TSA lines (45 minutes to an hour before the flight)  to avoid extra stress.
  • Check if the airport you are traveling through has a separate line for physically challenged persons or families since many do.
  • Bring your pre- filled TSA medical forms (print them off the internet)  along with your doctor’s note confirming your child’s condition to present to an agent should any issue arise.
  • Wear clogs or Crocs instead of shoes to slide on and off during the TSA check line.
  • Avoid wearing sweaters, belts, baggy pants and long skirts as they will trigger the TSA agents’ attention, and you might be stuck with an additional pat-downs.
  • If your child is squeamish about going barefoot on airport floors, bring a pair of disposable shoe covers.
  • Print and bring a map of the airport or airports you will travel through at airport terminal maps .com, so you can know the location of eateries and restrooms, and play areas if and when you need to use them.
  • Keep your cool no matter how stressed you are.Remember your child takes notice of your behavior and will become even more agitated.

30 Tips to improve flying with Autism plane

During the Flight

  • Reiterate your son’s or daughter’s diagnosis to the crew as soon as you board since sometimes the airline forgets to note the accommodations on its paperwork.
  • Dismantle the flight attendant calling button as quickly as possible. Otherwise, it may be (and will almost certainly will be) pressed continuously by your kid and annoy the crew unnecessarily.
  • Be sure to ask your flight attendant for extra napkins-those will come in handy to clean up sticky fingers and spills that might happen.
    Always accompany your child to the restroom to make sure they get any assistance they require.

Have you flown with your autistic child lately-Come share your tips and experience with us?


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