Tips for flying with 5 yr old with ASD

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by christyd2, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. christyd2

    christyd2 Earning My Ears

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    Hi everyone, I was able to get a flight for my son and me to fly down to see family for Christmas.

    We have a direct 2 hr & 15 minute flight. We leave from a small airport (Madison - Dane County) and I have Pre-check, so that'll help a lot.

    DS hasn't flown since he was a year old & is now 5 1/2. His Autism therapists are going to help us foreshadow the trip. He is high functioning, so as far as sensory issues, I think as long as we aren't close to the loud jets, I don't foresee having many issues as far as that. I think as long as I can keep him entertained we'll be okay.

    What tips do you have for keeping kiddos entertained on a plane and for making it easier for someone with ASD?
     
  2. stsomewhere

    stsomewhere DIS Veteran

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    ipad, movie, download new game, snacks etc.
     
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  4. lanejudy

    lanejudy Moderator Moderator

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    Some small airports will allow ASD kids come for a visit and tour, making it seem more familiar on the actual travel day.

    Teach him to pop his ears and bring gum or something to chew or suck during take-off. DD didn’t chew gum but we found gummy bears worked because she would chew them. Just don’t break them out too early or you may run out.

    Enjoy your vacation!
     
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  5. Betty Rohrer

    Betty Rohrer DIS Veteran

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    will he wear headphones? as you will need for movies and games unless sound is off. if potty trained make sure to use bathroom before you board as you will not be allowed up if seatbelt sign is on
     
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  6. christyd2

    christyd2 Earning My Ears

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    That's a fantastic suggesting! I flew with him when he was a baby and fed him during take off and landings and think it helped a lot. I completely forgot about that. He loves gummies so I'll make sure to have enough!
     
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  7. christyd2

    christyd2 Earning My Ears

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    He JUST started tolerating having headphones on in the last couple of months. He broke our iPad around 2 yrs ago (and our TV & my phone. It's so amazing how much therapy has helped because I can't imagine him doing that now unless it was an accident)

    I'm either going to borrow a portable DVD player or download a couple movies & his favorite songs on my phone.
     
  8. christyd2

    christyd2 Earning My Ears

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    There is a smaller airport (LSE) that is closer (one hour vs MSN which is just under 2 hrs away.). Madison I believe has 13 Gates and La Crosse only has 2. I would think since both are smaller airports & the check in process is the same that he would easily translate that when we go to MSN, wouldn't you think?
     
  9. Lauren in NC

    Lauren in NC Mouseketeer

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    There's a program for TSA that you can call ahead of time so that they'll accompany you through there, if you're worried about him having issues with that.

    We do iPad with headphones (we found some that he'll tolerate) plus something chewy or sucky (like lollipops) to help with the ear pressure (he hates gum). Honestly, we did a cross country flight once where the ONLY thing he did was play games/watch movies on his iPad. He was completely overstimulated after we got off the plane, but it was worth it to have a quiet flight. Is he reading yet? My kid's just learning, and we've spent an hour going through easy readers with him. For other forms of stimulation - silly putty was helpful and not too messy.
     
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  10. gap2368

    gap2368 DIS Veteran

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    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
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  11. ppony

    ppony Artist in residence DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    We always brought a gift bag for him. All new things to him he had never seen before that would keep him interested for a short while anyway. Phones and pads have been a lifesaver. Being on a airline w screens in the headrests is GREAT. Always bring his favorite snacks, blankets , whatever makes him comfortable. The amount of prep we parents do is critical to the success, but things happen even w the best laid plans. Just do your best and when people complain that you’re taking too long in line because of it, ignore them as best you can. Good luck!
     
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  12. christyd2

    christyd2 Earning My Ears

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    You are so right about the amount of prep we do! I can't even tell you the amount of work we did to get him ready for haircuts, but it paid off. He does incredibly well with them now.

    I love the gift bag idea; thank you! I've already got a list going. He is REALLY in to things that he can spin, like propellers on a helicopter and found a few with his favorite characters. He'll be really excited.
     
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  13. piccolopat

    piccolopat DIS Veteran

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    Just be aware that electronics generally need to be turned off during takeoff and landing. You may need to plan for some non-electronic entertainment for the 15 or so minutes at each end of the flight. Perhaps a new book if he is already reading or a coloring book if he's not. Headphones will help with the constant droning sound of the engines.
     
  14. Aladora

    Aladora DIS Veteran

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    We have been flying with our 13 year old since he was a year old. Social stories are great for younger kids, especially those who like to know exactly what is going to happen and in what order. We found that talking to our son over and over about what to expect was extremely helpful. We're in Canada so flying internationally is a bit different but here are the things we have done to prep in the past:

    1. We talk to DS about the trip, where are we going, how are we getting there, how long will it take.

    2. We always bring electronics for him. (Okay, and for DH and I as well! There was one long weekend trip to Seattle where I counted 8 electronic devices for 3 people) Our house rule has always been that if you are using something with sound, you are wearing headphones. This has been a non-negotiable rule and will remain one. I hate it when people watch videos in public without headphones, I find it extremely rude. I was not a big fan of DS using earbuds when he was little, so over the ear versions were our pick. He has a Nintendo DS and we try and get him a new game before each flight so he has something new to play. He also has a tablet that I pre-load with movies or tv shows.

    3. When we get to the airport, we always remind him that he absolutely HAS to listen to anyone wearing an airline, security or police uniform. Again, non-negotiable rule. DS likes to joke and we have to emphasize that the airport is not a "joking" place.

    4. We used to tell him that he may or may not be asked to take off his jacket and shoes. Now that he is 13, he is always asked but when he was under 12 they sometimes did and sometimes didn't. He hated not knowing if he was going to be asked but we always reminded him of the possibility.

    5. Before each flight, I go out and buy some snacks and treats that DS loves. There is typically nothing for purchase on the flights that he likes except Pringles so I try and pack some slightly healthier options in his backpack...although I am happy to let him eat junk food on the plane as a treat!

    6. When we get to security, I quietly let the agents know that our son is autistic and they usually get him to walk through the metal detector instead of the body scanner.

    Other than that, just try and pick a seat assignment that is away from the engines if the noise bothers him. You could speak with the gate agents about doing early boarding but just remember that you will have to wait until it is your row's turn to deplane so you might want to let your son know that once you land there will be a wait and people will probably crowd into personal space.

    Good luck!
     
  15. Treysar

    Treysar Mouseketeer

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    You can call TSA 72 hours in advance of your flight for a private screening. https://www.tsa.gov/travel/passenger-support

    If your child likes presents, have something small he or she can open every 20 minutes or so. Bring favors snacks that aren’t only allowed. We bring lollipops- they take awhile to eat!
     
  16. tjmw2727

    tjmw2727 DIS Veteran

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    Small electronics are now allowed during takeoff and landing, up to the size of an ipad, laptops still must remain off and stowed, remember headphones!!

    As for 'surprises" make sure you wrap after security - just put the surprises in a zip lock and bring a gift bag or paper and then you can hopefully sneak off for a minute and package it all up :)
     
  17. cdunn03

    cdunn03 Mouseketeer

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    Noise Cancelling Headphones helps my son a lot. Having a bag of his favourite snacks! New activity books! I usually let the flight staff know that he does have autism and this seems to help with the crews understanding of some stimming behaviours. We have had to prepare my son for the No going to the bathroom when the seat belt sign is on. Thats was a big issue for him.
     
  18. branv

    branv <font color=blue>The safety feature in my parents

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    My 5 year old is very high functioning, in fact his ADHD usually seems to cause more issues than the ASD. So some of the sensory issues for us are easier to handle than for others (soundproof headphones during take off so the trick for example). But oh my lord the fidgiting, the impulsivity, the fighting against the "rules".
    He has now been on six 3-hour flights and two 10-hour transatlantic. Fairly successfully!
    Our #1 tool: tablet tablet tablet. I make sure there is a mix of old and new games and shows. We just replaced his old headphones for ones with complete ear coverage and Bluetooth. Them and you fighting with a headphone cord can get old fast.
    We made social stories for the airport and the plane. We also brought along a doctor's note, just in case.
    For the overseas trip I went to TJ Maxx and found several small Transformer /Rescue Bot toys. As soon as he started losing interest I would pull out a new one. These were great bc each one took some time to figure out how to transform.
    Painters Tape -- Let him go to town with a roll of it. He can make designs, make a raceway for cars, etc. And it's all easily removable.
    Also, even for neurotypical potty-trained kids I always always bring some emergency pull ups. I've heard a few stories of kids not being allowed by the attendants to get up to use the bathroom having accidents in the seat. Better to have it and not need it than...
    Best of luck to you! If it makes you feel better, we haven't had a single meltdown in the air. Now at the hotel afterwards when all that over stimulation finally hits? Well that's a different story
     

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