Tips for Vacationing with your Special Needs Child - Alpha School

Tips for Vacationing with your Special Needs Child

While a vacation can be a great chance for parents to unwind, it can be tough for the special needs child. With planning and flexibility, however, it really is possible to have a positive family vacation. Here are some tips for making it work.

  • Keep it simple. Consider staying in one place rather than travelling around. Plan a daily schedule around one activity per day, and schedule some break time for relaxing.
  • Prepare accommodations. If your child needs special bedding, foods, or comfort items, bring them along. You know your child's needs better than anyone, so be prepared to make his vacation as comfortable as possible.
  • Stay positive. Even with a routine and accommodations, your child might become overwhelmed. Don’t let it ruin your day. Try to stay positive and move on to your Plan B.
  • Always have a Plan B. Your child may enjoy a particular activity, or . . . he may loudly let you know that he is not having a terrific time. If things do fall apart, have a backup plan in place. You may need to leave early and take your child somewhere else to calm down. Know in advance where that place will be.
  • Have a place to retreat to. If you’re vacationing with extended family, create a separate, private retreat within the house, or consider staying at a different house nearby. That way, you can create a home-like environment full of the things that provide comfort for your child when he needs a break.
  • Plan at least a few activities your child will love. Many special needs children love repetition. Indulge that for at least some of the vacation, whether it means playing putt-putt golf again and again, or going to the same ice cream place every day. Having special events to look forward to can make it much easier for your child to get through tougher moments.
  • Be fair. It is probable that during the course of the vacation, someone will need to change their plans to accommodate a special needs child. If possible, be sure that both parents take turns staying home with the child, leaving the restaurant early, or taking the child to a separate activity. Do your best to make sure that everyone in the family, including siblings, gets a chance to enjoy time doing what they want.
  • Prepare your vacation-mates. If you're vacationing with other people who don't know your child well, communicate with them in advance to let them know what to expect. Give them tips for how to engage your child.
  • Be flexible. While structure and routine are important, it is sometimes a good idea to go with the flow. If your child is really enjoying an activity, consider extending it even if your schedule says it's time to go home.

Finally, preparing your child before you leave for the vacation will help him to relax and enjoy the experience. Put together a scrapbook explaining where you're going and what you'll be doing. Make it as detailed as possible, using real photographs of the people and places you will visit. Read it together every night before you leave.

Once on vacation, have a plan for each day, and go over the plan at breakfast. Use visual schedules to help your child understand and mentally prepare for the day ahead.

Hopefully these steps will allow you and your special needs child to enjoy a vacation together that is relaxing for everyone.

About RKS Associates

At all the RKS Schools we pride ourselves in discovery the hidden treasures of all of our students. Our academic and support services are appropriately customized for a student unique and diverse needs so that they can reach their full potential.

Alpha School is part of special needs network of schools located in Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean County New Jersey. Since 1980 the RKS Associates schools have been leaders in helping special needs helping students with various disabilities including autism, Down's syndrome, communication, learning, social, behavioral and emotional disabilities. The range of services RKS schools provide is academic instruction and speech, occupational and physical therapies. In addition to Life Skills, Technology, and a full complement of Support Services.

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