Sunday, Apr. 26, 2009

Traveling by Plane

Tip: From airport security to boredom on the flight, plane travel can be a nightmare. With security, do a practice run. Marcy Mullins called her local airport in Cincinnati and explained that her 6-year-old son Marcel had never flown before. In an airport first, airport personnel allowed Marcy and her son to simulate what would happen when he went through security, step by step. The Columbus airport was similarly accommodating. If you can't do a practice run, at the very least, alert security about your child's issues.

Once you're on the plane, have a plan to pass the time. "On our last excursion to Asia (my husband was there already) with three kids under 8, including one with autism, I prepared like a neurotic woman on steroids," says Megan Browne. "Packed in each child's rolling suitcase I had prepared gifts wrapped in tissue paper and had enough for every hour on the plane for each kid. The gift included crayons, a new coloring book, Legos, PlayDough, a new DVD. They looked forward to each hour so they could open a new thing to play." Also, request bulkhead seats in advance and explain why you need them, and take gum or hard candy, particularly if your child is nonverbal and can't tell you his ears need popping.

Even with good prep, travel by airplane is just not feasible for some kids. "With the advent of heightened airport security, I can no longer fly with Morgan," says Pam Homsher. "I can just picture them asking to take her shoes off after she's waited in line for an hour. She has stellar hand-eye coordination and has killer aim with a Nike."

Read "Autistic Kids: The Sibling Problem."

See 10 things to do in San Francisco.