Airplane suggestions for DS3 with autism

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by airplane, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. airplane

    airplane DIS Veteran

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    My son is going to tantrum until we take off. Last time we flew he was 1.5 and I bought a seat for him so we could use his car seat but we ended up not being able to use it because it did not fit and he stayed on my lap which he loved but now this is not an option. The seats are soooo small I think he is going to feel claustrophobic. I am looking for any airplane suggestions that you may have. My biggest fear is the plane won't take off because of his tantrum. He can be redirected, it just takes some time. TIA
     
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  3. PlutosUnDr8d

    PlutosUnDr8d Earning My Ears

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    Does he have sensory issues? Verbal skills? Some headphones (with a favorite Disney DVD playing) may help. My son, now six, really enjoyed the window seat at that age, and it was distracting enough for take-off and landing. His biggest challenge was staying seated! A "lovey" from home is always helpful.
    Dollar stores usually have Disney Coloring books, if he is into coloring.
    Does he enjoy looking at social stories? Maybe a comic-strip type one with pictures of what to expect (starring a boy his age and maybe even Disney characters?) ending with going to Disney!!! :banana:
    If you have an artist in the family, he or she could even draw a simple story board and you could use the best wording for your son.
    You could start reviewing the social story right away, practicing what will happen and what he (and everyone on the plane) needs to do.
    Good luck--I know my son has AMAZING leaps and bounds in his vocabulary and social skills with each trip to Disney.:thumbsup2
    HTH!
    Jessica
     
  4. airplane

    airplane DIS Veteran

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    A dvd player will be a good start but He will not wear head phones. As of the moment he will not color. He only lines up the crayons. Crowds and enclosed spaces will be our biggest obstacles. His expressive language is a lot stronger than his receptive language. We have been having luck with pictures boards as long as the subjects are part of his daily routines. He has not had a good response to introducing new things via pictures so I don't know if he will understand the whole airplane boarding process. every week we experience a new challenge. but he is also making amazing improvements so I have no idea what lies ahead.
     
  5. PlutosUnDr8d

    PlutosUnDr8d Earning My Ears

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    Right-Dylan would not color either. We had a small Etch a Sketch he would fiddle with.
    Is he a Thomas the Train fan? Maybe they have a story book or DVD with an airplane featured? My son has a "story board" about Thomas with magnetic characters you can arrange on the scenery, easier than coloring.
    I would just let the flight attendant/staff at gate know his triggers and explain your needs to help him deal as best as he can.
    Maybe the Autism Society or Autism Speaks websites have some ideas?
    We usually drive, so grateful my son will wear headphones now, but remembering him at 3 he didn't wear them, either.
    It will be okay--just let the crew know and I would hope they will assist in any way they can.
    Hoping some pixie dust flies your way to lessen the worry! And hoping you have the Disney Magic happen for your son-Dylan would always make progress at WDW!
     
  6. kalimom6

    kalimom6 Mouseketeer

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    We just got back today from Orlando. We were supposed to be in last night but had to turn around, after making circles over our destination airport, and head back to wear we came from (salt lake). Got stranded there for the night. Needless to say, we are glad to be home.
    Anyway, my 3 year old, w/out autism, was the one who had the hardest time at take off and landing. He didnt understand why he couldnt play his game on my phone or tablet. So we did a lot of patty cake, head and shoulders (song), fingerplays, etc. We even did pretend play with his stuffed monkey. He loved making it wave goodbye out the window. Once we got high enough for electronics he was fine (loves the Lego game/app). He fell asleep on every plane.
    My 5 yr old special needs daughter, who's wish trip we were on, had a hard time boarding, getting off the plane, walking through the airport, etc. Too much of an unknown and she requires a rigid schedule so that was not fun. Plus low muscle tone makes it so she physically cant walk as much but, in her words, is too big for a stroller.
     
  7. LockShockBarrel

    LockShockBarrel Pudge controls the weather.

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    What do you think a flight attendant could do? They typically have a lot of other stuff to deal with, keeping passengers moving, making sure everyone is seated and everything is stowed, etc. Most of all making sure it's all done in a timely manner. They won't be able to stop while OP gets situated with her child or give them extra time once general boarding starts. The most you can do is board with the family boarding or whenever they call for whoever needs extra time to get on board. You might find a random flight attendant who could be willing to help but OP, you can't go in expecting this.
     
  8. Nevada Jen

    Nevada Jen Mouseketeer

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    If you truly think he will tantrum you might consider asking his Doc for a sedative. Just get enough doses that you can try it at home first!
     
  9. bookwormde

    bookwormde <font color=darkorchid>Heading out now, another ad

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    Lots of videos of the Airprt and airplane experiance can help.

    He can only be removed from the plane once you declare his disabiltiy to one of the flight staff if he is presenting a safety risk (FAA regs).

    Making the flight staff aware is also important since most have regular experiance with our kids, especially on the flights to MCO, so many do know how to "help" or at least not make the challenges worse.

    PHL and Newark occasionally have "practice flights" where you can bring your child to the airport and go through everything that happens before pushback.

    Unless you have used seditives before they are high risk with our kids since the reaction can be quite varied.

    The effort is well work the benefit of WDW for our kids, and flying is a life skill that is good to work on regularly

    If you are flying out of PHL I would suggest an early flight and whichever airline you use ask to disablity preboard so you can get settled and are not in the crush. I would also suggest sitting in the very back couple of rows.

    good luck and have fun
     
  10. PlutosUnDr8d

    PlutosUnDr8d Earning My Ears

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    This was my point, though not stated as clearly, thanks! I wouldn't expect anything, just prepare for the worst and hope for the best! People are often more helpful when they are aware of your needs.
    I second the statement about sedatives.
    Hope the trip goes smoothly and the return flight even smoother!
     
  11. airplane

    airplane DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for replies. I have always boarded the plane last to let him run around, but going first might be a better option now. We just got an ipad so that should help a lot. We will be flying out of ACY on Spirit. I love to hear about everyone's experiences. It helps to build my confidence. Thanks for sharing. I am actually picking my parents up at the airport on Monday so I am going to bring him in and see how he reacts. Am I allowed to take video in an airport?
    I used to be able to give him m&ms or lollipops to shorten public tantrums but that doesn't work anymore.
     
  12. WheeledTraveler

    WheeledTraveler DIS Veteran

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    Does he have any comfort specific clothes or items? For example, does he like weighted blankets? Also, how is he with seat belts (especially ones that have to be fitted to him, he can't just have loose)? Can you get him to suck on candy or anything so that he has a way to deal with the pressure changes during take-off and landing?

    Also, keep in mind that with Spirit while they can't charge extra for bags that only have medical equipment in them, they do charge for carry-ons that go in the overhead compartment (along with the other bag fees, etc.). That's one of the reasons I was thinking about things that might help some of the possible sensory triggers, but that wouldn't need to be stowed (you can always put a seatbelt over the blanket or under it as long as he's keeping it on his lap, etc.). I'd also call Spirit and see what suggestions they may have. They're not an airline I fly, but searching online says that they were affiliated with an autism conference in 2005 (just they had a deal for people flying to/from the conference) so they may have things they've done in the past. Also, it's worth calling the airport to see if there's any way you can at least walk him through security in prep for the trip so that you'd have him know that part of the process better.

    The only way to guarantee he won't have a problem would be to find a way to safely sedate him, but I'm with the others who have concerns about that route. I think if you can try to ID some of the sensory issues that might come up and how to alleviate those, you may be able to at least minimize the problems.
     
  13. Betty Rohrer

    Betty Rohrer DIS Veteran

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    do not repeat do not let him start playing with ipod until after take off as all devices incloding DVDplayers had to be put away for takeoff. if he is settled watching how is he going to do with having to turn off and put away? also true on landing. the tray tables will have to be up and closed during takeoff and landing. if you o get him to color look for the nonrolling crayons as they will roll off tray, same with small cars.
     
  14. Kellykins1218

    Kellykins1218 DIS Veteran

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    We always fly early and get the kids up extra early. They may be cranky at first but by the time we're boarded & they start the plane, the youngest usually falls fast asleep. Last time it was before we even left the gate in Cleveland & he slept until we landed :) The iPads loaded with movies & favorite games really help. If the flight has the seatback TVs, we pay for them to be able to watch cartoons. (Headphone volume up all the way & being "worn" around teddy bear's neck so they can hear it while not wearing them ...back when they hated headphones..now they love them). Between that & watching the "cotton candy" out of the window, the trip flew by for our 6 yr old. Coming home after a week at DW, they were both asleep 10 minutes into the flight. Sedating them was not an option because my kids become hyper little monsters on benadryl and would be bouncing off the walls. Luckily we've learned that they are awesome travelers which is not something we ever would have imagined. They are actually more calm & laid back while traveling and the" Disney magic" effect is unbelievable!
     
  15. airplane

    airplane DIS Veteran

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    Excellent advice. If I take the ipad away, that tantrum would be terrible. Thanks!
     
  16. crashbb

    crashbb DIS Veteran

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    Remember that you will have to take it away for landing as well. Perhaps a social story type of thing will help prepare him for that.
     
  17. PlutosUnDr8d

    PlutosUnDr8d Earning My Ears

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    Agreed! The iPad is wonderful, until it has to be turned off!
    Wonderful apps available for little ones.

    For crayons, I melted broken bits of crayons in (lined!) muffin tins in the oven (turn on to 200 degrees, put the muffin tins in, turn it off) to give my son chunky, easy-to-hold crayons that would not roll away. These were easier to hold, and you can combine colors to make it more entertaining.
    The little bit he DID color was with these initially.
     
  18. lan3

    lan3 Mouseketeer

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    We flew when my son was three and he did not color, watch tv or wear headphones either. I gave him snacks and drinks at takeoff and landing. He was mesmerized by the plane and was so easy throughout the flight that I was complimented on the behavior of him and my other two triplets. To me, the hardest part was going through security in MCO. In NY, we purposely flew out of a smaller airport which was great but at MCO, it was very difficult. I am planning to call ahead and see if there is anything they can do about the security situation (disability entrance or something) because the crowds and the instructions were very stressful for him and us. He may surprise you on the plane, my son certainly surprised me. He loved flying. I think the motion and the white noise were actually soothing to him!
     
  19. Sparkly

    Sparkly Starlight, starbright...

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    I have a stomach condition which comes with anxiety so I make sure I take the appropriate medicine and go to the bathroom at the last possible moment before we board. I preboard to give me a bit of time to get settled in to the plane before everyone else comes rushing in. Flying internationally, we always get free IFE so I can watch movies and some TV programmes to distract myself during the long nine hour flight from the UK. I also bring a electronic item such as a iPod or Kindle to use when that gets boring and look out the window. I also enjoy a feature on the plane which has a map of where we are going and tells you the speed at which we are flying and how long until we get there.

    I'm high functioning and a adult so some may not apply but this is just what I do to cope with the long journey.
     
  20. WheeledTraveler

    WheeledTraveler DIS Veteran

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    My experience as a wheelchair user at MCO is that the "disabled" entrance to security was the same as the "families with small children" entrance. That one can get backlogged because it puts everyone who takes the longest in the same line. I have to admit, though, that the longest wait I've ever had in that line was when there was only one family in front of me, but they didn't have the ID organized and out for all the children. Once they were through, there was pretty much no wait for anyone who didn't need a pat down, but could just use the regular machines. I took longer because I can't go through the machines so had to wait until they could get a woman over to do my pat-down (why they didn't keep one there is beyond me as it was off to the side from the rest of the lines and getting someone over took 10 minutes or so).
     
  21. kalimom6

    kalimom6 Mouseketeer

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    We had the offer of TSA help. We would meet at the check in spot for our airline and the TSA agent would put us through security faster. We ended up cancelling it as we got to MCO 2 hrs before we had to meet up and decided to just go through security and let the kids run around at the gate, plus eat dinner, flight left at 6pm (this was to go home). Maybe look into that? It was my daughters wish trip and the place we stayed at organized it for us. Not sure how to look into on your own.
     

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