Tips For Traveling With Children With Sensory Processing Disorder

Family trips are a time to get away and relax, but traveling with a child who has sensory processing disorder (SPD) presents some unique challenges. Being unprepared can be especially problematic for young people with this condition. If you’re the parent of a child who has SPD, here are a few things that you can do to help prepare for a long trip.

Explain What to Expect

Children with SPD often do better if they know what to expect in advance. Let your child know the specific time that you’ll be leaving and when you expect to arrive at your destination. You can also prepare your child by playing sounds of airplanes and other sounds that they may encounter when traveling by air. Explaining unique circumstances like the security check procedure can help prepare your child for the new things they will be experiencing.

Pick the Best Travel Times

Loud noises and big crowds are known to cause sensory overload for some children. It’s best to pick travel times during off-peak hours such as earlier in the morning or later in the evening. You might also consider traveling in slower travel seasons to avoid larger crowds and noises.

Bring Noise Canceling Headphones

Some noises associated with travel cannot be avoided. Children with SPD may remain calmer if they have noise canceling headphones for the flight. These headphones can block out all intrusive sounds and are comfortable for youngsters to wear.

Pack the Right Clothes

Making sure that you have the right clothes for your trip can be an important part in preparing for travel with a child who has SPD. Certain types of clothing can help children from getting overly sensitized. Seamless clothing, especially socks, can help children with SPD feel comfortable. also suggests using large amounts fabric softener when washing clothes in order to make them softer and more comfortable to wear.

Bring a Weighted Blanket

Taking a weighted blanket along with you for long flights can help your child sleep and stay calm. These blankets apply deeper pressure to muscles and joints, which can allow the nervous system to process senses more effectively without overwhelming the child.

Play Games

Bringing games can keep your little one’s mind engaged and help avoid triggers that can make SPD symptoms worse. There are certain board games and puzzles that are specifically designed for children who have SPD. Playing with clay can offer a good sensory integration activity while in flight. The University of California, San Francisco suggests that videogames can also be a good tool for helping children with SPD build stronger and more efficient brain connections.

Pack Some Snacks

Hunger can be especially problematic for children who have SPD, so you’ll want to bring along some snacks for a long flight. Children with SPD may be pickier eaters than average and snacks served by the airline may not .

Travelling is an adventure for everyone and you can make the best of your time away by planning ahead and bringing all the right items for your family. If you have a child with SPD, considering these things can help your child adapt to the challenges that they may encounter along the way.

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