Saturday, January 5, 2008

Planes, Trains and Automobiles.....The Travel Experience

Last week I took Nicky to see his neurologist, who is out of town in Sacramento CA, so we have to fly there. I know planes trains and automobiles can bring on all sorts of feelings in people from excitement to dread. Before Nicky I just had regular feelings about the getting on a plane. I felt some excitement when traveling for fun, exhaustion when traveling a lot for business, and fear when the air pockets were out of control. That was then…here's what airports mean for me now.

Change of routine, which means be prepared for the unexpected!!!
I take a deep breath and I thank God in advance that my child will have a good day and he won’t…

  • Melt down and get tackled by a TSA agent
  • Set off any alarms that get us both arrested
  • Hit the person sitting on the airplane next to us
  • Sit down and have a tantrum in the metal detector
  • Reach for the gun on a guard
  • Freak out if the metal detector “Beeps”
  • Start screaming on the plane and we get kicked off
  • Miss out on a window seat
  • Have too many people stare
  • Won’t be so unhappy and anxious that he can’t sit on the plane
  • Run away while I have to put my shoes back on
  • Be exposed to an emergency situation where someone yells an direction and he
  • doesn’t Understand, so the TSA jump us.
  • Scream on the airplane (a lot a little is okay)
  • Try to use the person in the seat next to us as a sensory tool

I pray that the TSA agents have some knowledge of disabled kids, so they can be compassionate and patient if we need them to (it’s the trigger happy thing that freaks me out). Finally I give thanks I won't beep when going through the metal detector, which means I have to be strip searched - while I try and keep Nicky near me.

The good news is that I keep taking Nicky out and facing these challenges and it’s getting easier. The challenges change and it’s up to me to continue to push not only Nicky to do more but for me to learn that he can do more. I want him to be as independent as possible and doing things that require much from both of us, really is helping us get there. So up, up and away!!!!!

Note to myself and others:

  • Remember, all the bad things I imagine never really happen
  • If I talk to him about the trip for a few days before he always does better
  • Take melatonin, treats, books and things he likes…and be prepared to give them to him (on a reward type basis, for doing so well) slowly over the course of the trip.
  • Tell him as many details as possible to avoid his anxiety
  • If it’s a new airport, go there first and walk him around, that helps prepare him
  • Tell the reservation clerk that I am traveling with a disabled child – so I can board first and maybe get a seat not next to anybody.
  • Remember that there is a short security line for people with disabilities…use it when the lines are long
See you in the skys!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Donna,
    My secret for trips was always the portable DVD player. I paid $1000 when they first came out around 1997...fortunately they are a lot cheaper now. Because we were flying to the east coast, I needed major distractions for Noah. Recently, a passenger on a plane commented on how well behaved my son was...this person did not know about his ASD diagnosis! So, experience, patience, and getting older have all paid off. Thanks for your blogs!!