Going on vacation - Flight worries!

Sharon - posted on 01/26/2011 ( 17 moms have responded )

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Hello everyone!

I am planning a family vacation in May and we are going to Disneyworld! My son will be 4 at the time and he has HF Autism. I was wondering if any one you have advice to keep him calm on the plane and give me tips for a smooth trip there? He is sensitive to loud sounds.

Thanks!
Sharon

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Tracy - posted on 02/01/2011

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We are planning a trip to WDW in August, so these tips are helping me too ! We have a daughter (4) with PDD- NOS and are concerned with flying.We are planning on bringing my daughters I pad with us, hopefully she will be entertained.... she HATES to wait, so this will be interesting.
ALSO - if you get a letter from your Dr. that your child has autism and has limited ability to wait, etc.... when you go to Disney and when you go through the gate, go to the service counter, show them the Dr note and they will give you a special pass and will allow you and your child to board a ride with no or little wait time.... found a lot of good info at Disney website and allears. net - look up autism and disney - lots of great tips !!!

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Diane - posted on 02/09/2011

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We had annual passes at Disneyland when our son was 4 and 5, and the disability pass saved us many times. He couldn't handle Fast Pass because he couldn't understand that once we went to a preferred ride, we still had to return later for the actual ride. With the Disability Pass, we could go to Disneyland for two hours, go on 5-6 rides, and go home.

As for flying, this is what helped most:

Benedryl before the flights.
Get a portable DVD player - they are pretty cheap now and are a huge help for long car rides or plane rides. Just bring along his favorite DVDs and it can also help entertain him in the hotel during down time.

Michelle - posted on 02/08/2011

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We had a horrible couple of flights a few years back and my mom found us a book after that, called "The Noisy Airplane Ride". We read that for weeks before our next trip and it went like a dream. Every loud noise that startled her she'd look at me and I'd say (for example) "the reversers" and she would finish "help the plane to slow..." as she;d memorized it from the book. And that was all it took, she knew what the noises were and they were far less scary. Now she just gets in, takes her seat and is excited to go.

Pamela - posted on 02/07/2011

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HELLO!!!! my son has just turned three and although not diagnosed with Autism he has MELRD and often shows the same signs and symptons of HF autism .. we went to the UK and france in December and came back in JAN the flight there was over 60 hours ( due to the snow at heathrow being diverted and stop overs ) He was so so good ( so was my 21 month old) but I tell you what saved my bacon was before we left I got him an ipod mini shuffle put his fav songs on it .. before we left we practiced getting him used to them and on the plane he loved them he zoned out he did get scared at some points but it was like hid body just shut down and he went to sleep.. he didn't watch any movies .. the only thing that seemed to worry him was the airport security he was grinding his teeth and clinging to us but he soon got used to that too and in the end after his 6th plane he was asking for toilets and walking through security with his arms up ( as we made is a game) we took along these thomas foldable train sets and some of his trains and he was happy waiting in the airports with them .

good luck he will be fine.. also tell the Flight attendants I did although it turned out we didn't need to ( but just in case its good to keep flight attendant informed) and was complemented on how good my boys were and for those that have Children with these quirks and often get stared at this was amazing I usually get the oh whats wrong with that boy this time I got.. YOUR BOYS ARE SO WELL BEHAVED of corse then people would try and talk to him or touch him which he didn't like..

Sharon - posted on 02/07/2011

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Thanks for all the great Tips. Wow! I really didn't know about the pass at Disney! That will be most helpful!

Our flight is at 6:45 in the am. We will get to the airport around 3:45am... Maybe he will pass out during the flight!

Becky - posted on 02/06/2011

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When we fly with our son, we actually talk to a TSA agent to see if my son (who is 9 years old) and my husband can go through security without waiting in line. I stay behind and wait in the normal line with the rest of our family. They are very helpful if you just explain your situation.

Jen - posted on 02/02/2011

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Sharon, we just got back from Disney World and it was awesome! You actually don't need any documentation in order to get the special pass. Just make sure you go to Guest Services once you are in the park. If you try to do it where you buy tickets, the Guest Services are crowded. Once you're in the park it's much easier.

Also, when we fly we make sure to get on the flight as late as possible (so our daughter can run around as much as she wants before sitting for so long), and we always make sure she sits by the window so she can see what's going on (this helps her not to panic at take-off and landing).

I totally agree with everyone about bringing on favorite snacks (try frozen grapes, they are great distractors) and new toys. Also, a social story ahead of time will help, as well as headphones and movies. We also use books on board to keep our girl busy.

Good luck!

Gael - posted on 02/02/2011

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Hi Sharon. my son is 4 aswell and we just had our first plane journey. We watched videos off youtube to show him the inside of the plane and how loud it would be. We also bought earplugs..more like what you yould see a worker wear so that the sounds wouldnt be too loud. We brought games colouring pencils. In the end he was fine it was us that were worked up. He took it all in his stride. Good luck
gael

Donna - posted on 02/01/2011

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I'd get the rethinkautism.com program right away and start doing the drills, you'll be amazed at how quickly they learn to cope with waiting and using their words to get what they want and need. Headphones are a good idea, chewing gum helped ours a lot when we were flying from Hawaii to the mainland several times a year. I always took a weighted blanket to wrap our son in when he started to melt down. I'd go online and get some of the business cards that TACCA has that explain to people that your child is autistic, if he has a meltdown on the plane, be prepared for others on the plane to not be very understanding. Good luck.

Tracy - posted on 02/01/2011

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I will try and remember to let you know, I am planning on going in March to do the same thing. I am bringing my daughters Nintendo DS (have to have headphones for it) in order to keep her occupied and an seeing my doctor to see if he recommends any gravol or other type of anti anxiety medication, just for the trip as she has never been medicated except for car sickness. Also contact your airline since they may be able to help you with special boarding so as to avoid the crowds.

Joana - posted on 02/01/2011

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Oh, I also got a prescription from my doctor for "numbing" ear drops that last for 1-2 hours - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for flying with any kid! they are called Antipyrine & Benzocaine Otic Solution.

Joana - posted on 02/01/2011

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My son is 3 and has PDD-NOS. I live in Minnesota but my family is in Boston so we travel twice a year. Last year our trip was a disaster but this year I made him a social story & it worked wonders! I went to Google Images and searched airports for pictures that showed the different steps of going to the airport/travelling. I copied the pictures onto my computer and printed them. I placed them in a cheap photo album from Walgreens and typed up one sentence for each page. This included "we are going to the airport" "there are lots of people at the airport" "we have to get a ticket to go on the airplane" "we have to take our shoes off and put our bags on the table" "after we put our shoes back on, we can go see the airplanes" "we will have to wait until the airplane is ready" "then we walk through a tunnel to get to the airplane" "when we are on the airplane, we have to sit in our seat" - you get the jist! On a previous trip I had taken some pics of my son on an airplane so he could relate better. I showed him the book the day before & he must have read it 30 times with me but when we got to the airport he was VISUALLY prepared for all the steps and did remarkably well! It is also worth it to tell airport staff your child is autistic so they can get you through security without going through the usual lines and we usually get to board 1st so it's not as confusing to him. HOPE THIS HELPS - GOOD LUCK!

Janet - posted on 02/01/2011

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We just took our two kids on their first plane ride in November. After researching it extensively, this is some of the feedback I have for what worked and didn't work for us.



The waiting for the plane was hard for my kids - I recommend taking a really early flight and let the kids sleep in their comfy clothes or fly in their pyjamas. Security was a bit of an issue, mostly because of waiting in line. Try to play games like ispy, songs and things to keep their focus on you and not on all of the frightful sounds in the airport.



Once we got through security, it was fine again, and the plane was a big wonder. However, we also used gravol which made them slightly sedated during the flight itself. A tip that I *loved* and it worked wonderfully, was to go to your local dollar store and buy a bunch of small things that they have *never* seen before. That's key. Because it will at least keep their attention for 5-10 minutes at a time.



The other thing we had an issue with was the airpressure change - we had gum, but never really realized that we'd never given it to our little one before.. and she didn't know how to chew it, especially under the duress of the ear pain.



Things that worked REALLY well were earphones that covered their whole ear and blocked out the sound with their favorite movies on a minidvd player or psp. The PSP was great because we had movies and games on it so if they got bored with one or the other, they switched.



Snacks were also a big must - it was a good to have some of their favorites and something new and flashy (Like a big bag of candy and some of their favorites)



We also let people know when we could that we'd need assistance - and we had Tshirts made previously with the Autism Awareness symbol on it and we took the girls to the airport a few times to get them used to the environment.



After all the preparations our two little gaffers (3 and 5 at the time of the flight) were the best behaved kids on the planes!



Best of luck to you!

Sarah - posted on 02/01/2011

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Take off and landing were not a problem for us. We made sure we told him what was going to happen and he seemed okay with the whole thing.

I forgot to mention earlier that we found a board book called Planes at Barnes and Noble booksellers that essentially acted as a social story. It was nice to be able to have it to show him what was going to happen too. We even took the book on the flight so we could show him where we were in the process.

Sharon - posted on 01/31/2011

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My son LOVES his cars too so that is a great tip about keeping his cars away until we land. it's onlt a 2-3 hour flight so i am sure he can survive without them.

Nathan doesn't really tantrum. And the sound sensativity isn't that bad. (He gets scared with loud hand dryers in public rest rooms.)

But the earphones is a great idea too.


Did you ladies have any problems with the take-off and landing?

Sarah - posted on 01/29/2011

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I was so nervous about flying with my son who is PDD-NOS. He is almost 3 years old. We had read many online articles about flying with children with autism and this is what worked for us: we let all of the flight staff know that he was autistic, we did a practice walk through (as far as we could) at the airport we would be flying out of, we took snacks, music and headphones, dvd player and favorite movies. Everyone was really helpful and allowed us to board early so we could get him settled in his seat. Security even gave him stickers after he passed through the metal detector. We had some screaming on board, but overall I thought he did quite well on the plane. The hardest part for him was waiting for take off and after we had landed to get back to the gate. I don't recommend taking any cars or small toys like that. We did, and my son lost his under the seat where we couldn't get to it which as you can imagine started a fit. A little preparation will go a long way! Hope your trip is good!

Katherine - posted on 01/27/2011

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Headphones? They have movies now on flights that he could watch. Earplugs? I'm thinking anything but mildly sedating him.....I don't know how bad he is.

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