Airplane travel with son who has special needs. (warning: novel ahead)

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by ZoomZoomZOOM, Jun 27, 2010.

  1. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jun 27, 2010

    I know this should probably go in the "time out" forum, but I wanted to put it here because you guys would be more familiar with the behaviors of a boy with MR. (So I hope the mods don't move it *beg* :) )

    First some background. Erik (my son) is 11 and has mod MR. He looks somewhat typcial, so when he has melts, people often stare because they don't understand why he's acting that way. He's Non-verbal but makes LOTS of noise (uses signs and PECS and has a GoTalk). He's not potty-trained so he wears pull-ups. He's very social and LOVES to flirt with cute, young girls. When they walk by, he'll shout, "HI!" He loves to watch Sesame Street, Barney, The Wiggles, and Thomas. And he loves to play with Thomas trains and trucks. He also likes playing on the computer (we have a subscription to PBS.org and he knows his way around pretty good - though he mostly just presses buttons randomly).

    The melts occur whenever he's told to do something he doesn't want to do or told "no." He'll often times yell out, "AAAGGH!!" and bang his head really hard on whatever is nearby (sometimes the floor). He even recently broke a window with his head at school. :(

    So here's my dilemma. In a few days, my husband, Erik, and I will be flying to Scotland. It won't be Erik's first plane ride. Last year we flew to Hawaii which was a much longer flight. I ended up crushing a couple Dramamine and putting it in his milk just before the flight. This made him sleep for 2 of the 10 hours. When he woke up, we gave him a portable DVD player so he could watch some of his shows. But after about 30 minutes, THE CHARGE WORE OFF. So basically, for 7 1/2 hours, Erik had to sit there and stare at the seat in front of him. He was too short to see the TV screen overhead and refused to sit on anything to raise himself up. We took turns taking him for walks up and down each aisle but could only keep that up for so long before we started getting rude stares. The daytime flight took F O R E V E R but actually, Erik did pretty well, all things considered. On the plane ride home, it was a shorter flight and this time it was at night so everyone was sleeping - except us. Erik was watching his DVD player which we were very careful to charge fully this time. Every once in awhile, he would clap his hands and yell "YAY!" and wake everyone up. :blush:

    This time, we leaving at a really strange time. We leave at 4:30 in the afternoon and arrive in Amsterdam at 1AM our time to switch flights with a 45 min layover. So then (again in our time) we'll be flying to Scotland at 1:45 and arriving by 3AM.

    Typically when you fly to Europe, it's an evening flight and you sleep. So I had planned on giving Erik something a little stronger to make him sleep longer. But now that we're leaving at 4:30, I'm not sure what to do. If he's going to have to stay awake and be expected to run around an airport at 1AM, I'm thinking many melt-downs will occur because he's used to sleeping 9PM to 7AM.

    So to make a long story short (TOO LATE) I'm really worried about it and wondered if you guys have any suggestions. :unsure:
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 27, 2010

    Sorry-- it's totally out of my realm of experience and I don't have a clue. Would your pediatrician be able to offer any advice?

    Could you come up with a bag of surprises (and one for the trip home) to give him at intervals along the way?
     
  4. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Jun 27, 2010

    Zoom--

    iPod touch! With back up battery...!

    More later..
     
  5. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Jun 27, 2010

    Might be good to ask the pediatrician/neurologist for a sedative for the plane ride.

    Or you can do what I did for 10 days straight while in the hospital in August 2007 - get a bunch of DVDs, a laptop, and watch movies/tv shows all day long (and all night when they required sleep deprivation).
     
  6. teacher12345

    teacher12345 Cohort

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    Jun 27, 2010

    Can you make a little plane kit (some suggestions):

    a small travel pillow (the one that is for the plane or a small one like this http://www.etsy.com/listing/44587436/thomas-the-train-flannel-toddler-travel)

    a character throw blanket (maybe a character he likes)

    pajamas

    an extra change of clothes

    thomas trains (maybe 1 or 2 new ones)
    character books
    a coloring book
    an ipod with some of his favorite videos on it in case the DVD player runs out)
    a new dvd or 2
    some sensory toys (little fidgets, silly putty egg, fun size container of play doh, small fun size mini slinky, squishy balls, wikki sticks, chewies, a mini spectra light spinner (visual))

    and maybe noise cancelling headphones http://www.therapro.com/True-Junior-Ear-Muff-P321974C6053.aspx

    and some of his favorite snacks

    also make a visual schedule if you already used your 30 day boardmaker free trial then you can use print editor on boardmaker share (more addenums and pecs there as well), just open a file in print editor and then delete it and make your own visual using the free trial print editor (15 day free trial)
    I would make a first then schedule with some pecs like (snack, trains, coloring, rest, dvd, ipod, books, sensory toys, stickers, etc. and also ones that are specific to the airport like take off, landing, waiting, sit in seat, seatbelt sign on, bathroom, eat, security, customs, layover, switch planes, walk off plane, get on new plane.)
    also carry a pecs book and some prompting symbols on a binder ring such as, stop, look, listen, calm down, quiet please, I need a break, let's take a walk, hands down, no head banging, no hitting, quiet hands, quiet body, wait, hungry, thirsty, upset, mad, sad, happy)
     
  7. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jun 27, 2010

    Thanks for the input guys. I knew you'd give me some new ideas I hadn't thought of and you didn't let me down!

    sk - I'm on it. He loves my IPod Touch. And I just put about 1000 new free games on it just for this trip and I haven't let him play with it lately - I'm waiting for the plane ride to show him. That should keep him busy for a good 30 minutes.

    I'm thinking I'll slip him a mickey at about 9pm and hopefully he'll get enough of a nap in before we land that he'll be able to function and switch planes without too much fuss.

    Fidgits are hard to do with Erik because he could possibly throw them. One time he had one of those matchbox cars in the backseat on a drive and he threw it at the back of my head - while I was driving!! :dizzy:

    I'm trying to think of things to put on his Go Talk... It's a Go Talk 20 with 4 different programable templates.

    This poor kid's backpack is going to weigh 50 lbs.
     
  8. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Jun 28, 2010

    Zoom-

    I think the possibility of creating an "airplane activity schedule" for him would be great. Get a small little binder (those mini binders) and put the manilla dividers in it. Put a velcro dot on each page. Make many little activity cards for various things he could do. Place an icon each page. For activities that don't have a clear start and finish, put a "time" on the icon, or put a "time" icon next to the picture. For example, a picture of "books" with "7:00" next to it. Have the timer velcroed to the front of the book, have him set it for 7:00 when he gets to the books page (or you can set it). He then can look through his books for 7:00. Turn the page, next icon= ipod touch 10:00. Listen/play with ipod for 10:00. Turn the page, next icon = Crayola Magic Markers (those ones that only appear on the paper!!! Get a few books of those with his favorite characters - they have star wars, cars, back yardigans, etc.)

    You catch my drift. This is a way to structure the flight so he knows what he's working on and what comes next. At least in the autism world, they say "play is work and work is play." I know it's not EXACTLY the same for kids with cognitive disabilities - but it's similar. When it's structured and they know exactly what to do and can "run" it themselves (keep all of the activities available so he can pull out the next stuff, turn the page on his own, etc.) You could potentially have up to 2 hrs in the binder. Then if he falls asleep, you could reset the binder. Or, you could have him pick out what he wants to do and reset the binder.

    I have done this in the past for my kids when we go somewhere "out of the ordinary" (that the district "thinks" will be fun for my kids but really could end up being a disaster) - such as a carnival, aquarium, etc. I make little activity schedules for all of them and they are ON A MISSION to finish that activity schedule.

    You can get some of his favorite candy and put a picture of it on the back inside cover. This way, if he gets fussy/annoyed/non-compliant - you can turn to the very back and say, "Remember, if you finish all of your games, you can have swedish fish! Yum!"

    GOOD LUCK!!!
     
  9. teacher12345

    teacher12345 Cohort

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    Jun 28, 2010

    great idea teachersk!!!!!!

    the markers you are talking about are called color wonder markers.

    Some other quiet activities that I thought of:

    dvds
    color wonder markers
    stickers
    model magic/play doh
    books
    ipod touch
     
  10. JustJim

    JustJim Companion

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    Jun 28, 2010

    My last trip, I sat across from a gentleman who was about ready to pull his hair out over his young daughter's behaviors. (Personally, I thought she was charming, but I hadn't been traveling with her for ten hours.) After she figured out I knew more ASL than her daddy, we were buddies. We worked up a schedule on my netbook, discussed what happens when the plane lands, etc. And we played a lot of video games.

    Before we left the airport, her father got online and ordered her a netbook. I met with them a few days later to set up the software and show her how to use it.

    You could do the same. The entire trip could be pre-programmed and diagrammed, with time lines and pics of what you might see at each stop, etc. You could load his movies on it, files with a backup copy of any communications software, music, almost anything you can think of. Then clone the hard drive on a portable hard drive or big thumbdrive, just-in-case. Earphones too of course--until I found mine we drove a couple of people half-crazy with the sounds of Snood.

    With careful selection and a backup battery, you should get 10-20 hours of runtime. Don't forget a voltage converter so you can charge the batteries. Netbooks are surprisingly durable, I use mine with kids all the time.
     
  11. teacher12345

    teacher12345 Cohort

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    Jun 28, 2010

    some ideas for his go talk...

    I want to/ I want...

    color
    rest
    mickey
    drink
    snack
    bathroom
    walk
    dvd player
    different dvd
    ipod touch
    books
    golfish crackers
    cheerios
    pretzels
    sweedish fish
    etc.

    and then some airplane words:

    pilot
    flight attendent
    plane
    switch planes
    drink cart
    security
    boarding
    landing
    take off
    ears popping
    no electronics
    tray up
    tray down

    also just in case his ears pop you could use ear planes...
     
  12. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Jun 29, 2010

    I don't really have anything to add that hasn't been said - but HAVE FUN!!!!!! And good luck!!!
     

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