Over the summer, I did something rather brazen.
I single-handedly took a 13 month old and a three year old across the country by plane.
This would be stressful under the best of circumstances, but my oldest has sensory issues that could cause an epic meltdown at any point.
While it didn’t go perfectly, we had quite a few victories! Maybe you can learn from our trial and error…
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At least a month before we left for the trip, I started talking about it with Loopy. We discussed every detail I could think of. Especially the ones that could be a sensory nightmare. Carrying luggage, masses of people, echoing corridors, intercoms, escalators, engine noises, ears popping, turbulence… you get the picture.
It really helped to discuss what to expect and when since transitions are especially hard for my little guy.
About a week before our trip, we did a trial run. My husband dropped me off with just Loopy so we could go through the first couple steps of our trip at an unrushed pace. It was great for Loopy to make the ambiguous concrete. It also helped that we weren’t under a time crunch, so I could help with any fears that arose with ample patience.
I also got to ask gate workers and TSA guards my questions regarding our special circumstances. (Can Loopy wear his weighted compression vest despite the metal shot that weighs it down? Yes, as long as he takes it off for the metal detector and has it checked out by security.)
This is a no-brainer, but pack as many sensory calming toys as you can. We brought our Chewy Necklace , Squeeze Fidget Balls, Weighted Compression Vest, Stretch Loop Bands, Noise Canceling Headphones and the classic Sensory Brushes.
My son is calmed by heavy pressure so he brought a small backpack to carry his toys in. (Check out THIS one!)
The extra weight centers him and helps poor Mommy’s back.
Take a Plane!
No matter how much you prepare, something weird is going to happen during a long day of air travel with sensory issues. So be sure to bring ample patience.
For our flight, the majority of the struggle came from Lumpy, my wiggly 13 month old who just wanted to show off his new walking skills every waking moment. Loopy’s only major meltdown came when he woke from a nap, just as the plane started to descend. He needed to go to the bathroom, but the flight attendant refused to let us get up. If you have a kid with SPD, you know that their emotions can escalate alarmingly fast. Poor guy was screaming at the absolute top of his lungs that he was not a baby and had to go RIGHT NOW. Well, I managed to put one of his brother’s diapers on him mid tantrum, to avoid any major mishaps. He still didn’t want to use it and was hyperventilating and causing one heck of a scene until his bladder finally gave in.
Moral of the story, ask the flight attendant to warn you ten minutes before the bathrooms close down for the rest of the flight! Wow.
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Boasting in Weakness: I’m not a patient person. My children love to expose this fact. During the trip, I used anger to get my way. I used harsh tactics to save face in front of strangers instead of taking the time to admonish and love my children. Yuck.
If you’re new here, you need to know I’m NOT perfect. Far from it. I try and expose a weakness of mine on a regular basis so that you know that any good in me comes from God transforming me. You can read more about why I DON’T want to make myself look good here.
Great post! I love your idea of doing a trial run at the airport when you have ample patience and time. I’m working on a round up post of travel tips and I would like to include a link to your post.
Thanks and yes, you’re more than welcome to link to this post.