Over the years, I have read many stories of children having difficulty with travelling on airplanes,
venturing out of their organized structure, experiencing unfamiliar surroundings, can pose hurdles and behaviour issues. As a family we travel a lot , there have been good times and bad times, here are some strategies I have put in place with Niam to share with all of you.
1. PREPARE NIAM IN ADVANCE
Niam uses a calendar, he loves his day organized, and, likes to know the main events of each day for week. As soon as we book a vacation, we start telling him the day we are leaving. I have him schedule the day in his calendar. In his mind, Niam is preparing for the change in environment.
2. CREATE A SOCIAL STORY OF THE STEPS
I have a social story I created, personalizing it for Niam. It starts by saying Niam and the family are going on a vacation, the destination, and all the steps Niam will encounter on the his new adventure to the airport. It details waiting in line at the checkout, to standing in line at customs, and the expectations of going through security. Where possible I use pictures of Niam and, the rest I took from google images. I bring the social story with me to the airport and show turn the pages as we move through the steps, it allows him to know where he is in the book and what is coming next.
3. CREATE EXTRA CHECKLISTS OF DETAILS
This may sound a bit crazy for some, I have to tell you, it works like a charm for me, I have created a task list of details steps, I use over and over again, for certain parts of the airport, security being one of these places. In the task list, I have wait in line, hands to yourself, quiet mouth, take off your shoes put in box, take off jacket put in box, and the list goes on. He loves it. Niam loves check marks, this works like a beauty. We always line up for a Starbucks cookies after as a reward.
4. LEAVE VERY EARLY
This is very important, leave early to give ample time to be able to do all the above steps. Niam loves to look outside the window before he boards to watch the suitcases go up into the airplane, if we miss this important event, disaster awaits us.
5. MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD GOES TO THE WASHROOM JUST BEFORE BOARDING THE AIRPLANE
I am not sure, the second we board, Niam has to go to the washroom, I think he loves the fact, it is the airplane washroom, imagine people boarding, and your child announces in the middle of the line he has to go to the washroom. We take him before hand, and include in his social story, a washroom visit after the airplane goes up, and the take off seatbelt sign is on.
6. PACK YOUR CHILD’S FAVOURITE FOOD AND SNACKS
Once I forgot, and ended up paying $60.00 at Starbucks for cookies , chips and all types of goodies, to keep my little one happy and, my older son, joined in the festivities of snack collecting. I learned my lesson, never again, a trip to Walmart for loads of goodies at reasonable prices.
7. PACK ACTIVITIES
Niam is not into board games, colouring or any of those games and activities that are actually good for the development of the brain, he prefers watching movies. I pack the tablet, hand charger, load up movies and games, to make sure he is quiet and busy on the ride. I have to tell you this is why Niam loves flying, no time restriction on the tablet, its Niam heaven for the duration of the ride.
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