Part of successfully traveling with autism is the ability of the caregivers to foresee and prepare for those scenarios that can trigger those dreaded meltdowns.
Here are tips to avoid airport meltdowns that we have compiled over the years based on our past incidents.
Meltdowns due to flight delays
#Try to book direct early morning flights that do not originate in any weather troubled zones when possible.
#Study your flight track record on Kayak.com to get an idea of the possibility of delays and remember to check the airline updates before you leave for the airport.
#Download a map of the airports ahead of time, so you get acquainted with the local amenities i.e. eateries, entertainment, and shopping.
# Pack (cord including for quick recharge) at least two favorite electronic devices such as Ipads, I-pods, Nintendo or other games for your child to use while waiting.
Meltdowns related to food
#Download a map of the airport and decide ahead of time where, and if you are going to eat to avoid last minute arguments of the pizza parlor versus sandwich joint.
#If your flight is scheduled after 10 pm chances are you’ll find the airport restaurants closed so be sure to pack some necessary snacks like chocolate bars or cookies in your carry-on luggage. Although healthy fruit or veggie snacks might be a better choice, they can be confiscated in some countries by the agricultural inspectors.
#Always carry coins with you so you can use any available vending machines.
Meltdown at the TSA lines
#Decide ahead of time whether you want the x-rays screen or the more lengthy pat -down process. Bear in mind in mind that the pat -downs may not be the best idea if your traveler hates to be touched by strangers and might physically or verbally object to the search.
#If your kid cannot wait quietly or is too tired to do so, head on to the front of the line and ask the person responsible, whether any special needs’ accommodations can be made. Some airports do provide separate disabled and family lines, especially during rush hour.
#When making your reservation make sure you allocate at least one hour for domestic and two for international connections. Remember that flights to certain destinations may require additional security checking at their departure gate and that passengers entering the US clear customs and immigration at the first entry airport, both of which necessitate extra airport time.
# Also, always be informed of the exact time to be at the gate for your continuing flight and the nearest hotel to the airport in case you end up missing your flight.
#If you are running late, head on to the nearest airline representative and let them know you are in the airport, so they can notify the gate your next flight is leaving from that you’re on your way.
#Ask for special-needs assistance instead of attempting to run across the airport on your own saddled with all the luggage, especially if you need to change terminals.
Safety related meltdowns
Here are tips in the event your kid runs off during the meltdown
#On the day of travel photograph or film your child with your camera phone before you leave the house. When my sons were younger, I used to dress them in matching bright colored t-shirts so it would be easy not only to spot them from a distance but to describe what one was wearing by looking at the other child.
#Teach verbal kids to approach ladies wearing name tags or in uniforms if they feel lost and get them memorize your cell phone number.
#When traveling with nonverbal children consider getting them to wear an identifying tag with your phone number and a description of their disability or even a portable GPS bracelet that can be easily traced.
#Upon discovering the child is missing alert the airport authorities, don’t waste precious moments searching on your own.
#Ask one family member to stay in the spot the child was last seen at, in case he/she returns.
#Insist the police distribute the autistic person’s picture immediately with a full appearance description and details of the disability.
#It is important to explain to the authorities how to approach your child when found, so make sure you include details of whether he/she would respond to their name, react aggressively, or object of being physically touched in the report.
Has your child experienced meltdowns in the airport ?
How does your family deal with them?