Summertime Traveling: How to Handle Road Trips with a Special Needs Kid

As a parent, you already know that summer itself can be a challenge, and road trips can be even more so for a typical kid. However, if you’re a parent of a special needs child, both of these can be even more challenging.

From problems with wanting to be barefoot to wearing sunscreen and from sand to swimming pools, summer can be hard enough on your kid without the dreaded road trip to get to your desired vacation spot. The tips below will help you, your family, and your child survive the road trip and even enjoy the experience as well.

Pack Travel-Friendly Toys

It’s essential to keep your child occupied and entertained during your road trip. You can do this by packing travel-friendly toys like books and travel games for him to read or play with his siblings along the way.

While you’re packing travel-friendly toys for your child, don’t forget to include his KAFO socks as well. Children who wear braces can be highly vulnerable to sweat and discomfort caused by regular socks, so be sure to have several pairs in reserve.

Avoid Screen Time When Traveling

Many experts feel that too much screen time can affect the brain’s ability to form strong connections, which can lead to meltdowns and behavioral problems on the road. This is especially true in children with special needs who might not get around as much.

So, while it may be tempting to let your child watch a DVD on the car’s TV or hook him up with movies or videos on his phone, it’s best to refrain. Instead, try playing car games like “I Spy,” or even downloading an audiobook for him to listen to along the way.

Pencil in Quiet Time

On a road trip, it’s essential to schedule quiet time for the entire family. Quiet time relieves the stress of the trip and lets everyone relax and regroup. It might help to play soothing classical music during quiet time as well.

Avoid the Fast Food Stops

It’s super-tempting to stop for fast food when the kids get hungry on a road trip. However, it’s not a good idea for your kids too often. While it’s well-known that healthy meals are hard to find on the road, these are laden with chemicals and preservatives that can lead to behavior issues and meltdowns you don’t want to deal with in the car.

Instead, try packing healthy snacks, such as trail mix, raw veggies, and fresh fruit ahead of time so you can avoid the triggers that fast food prompts.

Try to Relax

Special needs children are very perceptive and in tune with your feelings. If you are stressed, then your child is going to pick up on that, become agitated and start acting out. So, take a deep breath, sit back, and enjoy the trip.

These are a few tips that can help you get through a road trip with a child who has special needs. Remember, relax, and everything will be fine.

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