Planning our trip - cards to hand out?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Shari, Jul 6, 2009.

  1. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    With any luck, and if difficult child holds it together, we're going to visit difficult child 1 next week.

    It will be wee difficult child's first trip on a plane, and he will be anxious.

    My exMIL brought her mother home on a plane after her father passed away. Her mother was in the advanced stages of Alzheimers and dementia. She printed a few business cards up that she handed to airline personell that explained her mother and what they needed to do in the event there was a problem involving her mother, and she said it was a world of help.

    She suggested I do the same for wee difficult child, but I'm not sure how much info to divulge or how to word it. Any suggestions?
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    I'm sorry but I'm not sure I understand. Weegfg will be traveling with you and husband right? If I'm assuming correctly, why would you need to hand out cards about his issues if you and husband will be there? Are you anticipating there are going to be major issues and you would want the flight staff to notify other passengers about your son?

  3. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    husband is not going. It will just be me and wee difficult child. I know he will be anxious about flying, and while I hope the trip will go off without a hitch, I am trying to plan ahead in the event it doesn't.

    ExMIL suggested cards with a brief overview of wee difficult child's behavior issues to explain what and why, if you will, without having to verbally explain in front of him. If he were to have a total meltdown, I can hand them the card and they will know what is going on instead of trying to intervene without knowing what's up and causing more problems.

    Make more sense?
  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member


    There is a one for kids with Autism. With at least one of your docs saying Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), you could use this and it would get the point across to anyone you needed to..
  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I don't think cards would be necessary. If difficult child is having a meltdown, you can simply say to well intenders, "Thank you! We are used to this and he will be fine."

    I would think the cards would add more confusion to those around. They will not understand what you are doing and as you offer an explanation, they will assume that is a green light to ask questions and get the entire background something you do not have time for and is none of their business.

    If you are concerned that he may run, then you could have cards listing his descripition, age, what he is wearing, ect. to hand to staff to help locate him.
  6. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Thanks, JJJ. I can modify that basic outline and use something similar. I like the bullets. I had re-vamped a version of the holiday letter to family that Fran sent way back when, but it seems too wordy.

    I don't think he'll run. My biggest concern is that he'll just shut down. I intend to give the cards to the gate keeper and stewards/stewardesses (not just general public) before there is a problem so they are aware that he is special needs before hand and hopefully will help defray any repurcussions from any odd behavior. He is an extremely social little guy, but he is not socially appropriate.
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I, too had to bring an elderly senile grandmother home on an airplane. (Gosh what havent I done? LOL) We had to change planes in Charlotte NC and she started to get a bit agitated. I didnt have cards and I wasnt next of kin or really have any sort of legal custody so I was kinda worried. The airport staff was wonderful. My grandma was kinda into good looking young so she was very happy when this nice looking guy in a uniform came over to help me calm her down. The new plane was at the gate and he suggested that in just a few minutes he would walk her down the isle to the plane and help her find her seat. She was so Calmed right down.

    For difficult child I would get some coloring books about planes, maybe a plastic toy plane, and talk to the gate staff about boarding early. Get window seats. Ask if difficult child can talk to the pilot and "get his wings". I think they still do this. Make sure you take snacks, gum, and drink if you can still do this. I cant remember what you are allowed to take on anymore.
  8. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Shari, will difficult child watch a movie on a portable dvd player?(or laptop) My kids have ear phones which allowed them to zone out when they were anxious. Gameboy was a big help too. He may be perfectly fine on the plane if engaged and engrossed.
  9. graceupongrace

    graceupongrace New Member


    Would it be better to have difficult child board early, vs. lining up with the rest of the crowd? If so, I'm sure you can let the gate agent know at check-in, and they'll let you two be part of the pre-boarding process.

    Hope the trip goes well!
  10. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Shari, are you considering a PRN medication to bring in the event difficult child gets anxious or agitated? We always had to give our son a dose of Benadryl before flights because he suffered from panic attacks.
  11. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    We haven't told him that we are going yet. Anticipation and building anxiety are not his thing. We have talked "in general" about flying, tho..."someday". We went to an air show and after much deliberation, he decided he wanted to fly in a bi-plane, but by the time he decided, all the open slots were filled. So its been in his mind before.
    We plan to tell him a day or two in advance. Its a fine line to walk - giving him enough time to prep for it without giving him too much time to obsess over it and work himself into a frenzy.
    I have a running list of things to far it includes sudafed (make sure his ears are clear as they can be) and decongestant spray, gum, a PRN medication (benadryl doesn't work to knock him out), a few snacks, his binoculars, coloring book, sketch pad, pencils and crayons, the portable dvd player with headphones, the Nintendo DS, and "up my sleeve" I will have a new game for the DS that he doesn't know about, a new movie, and a couple small lego kits. ExMIL's sister also knows of a product that helps with the ear popping issue, and she's getting that info for me, as well.
    I'll purchase a couple of drinks after we pass thru security to take on the plane.
    He will sit and draw and sit and lego most of the time (emphasis on most), but movies and video games are very hit and miss with him as far as providing a distraction, so I'm not sure we'll want to board too early...will just have to see how it goes. He is almost always in constant motion. It may be best to not board early...our seats are assigned, so that's not an issue. Just thinking if I can hand them a card as we pass to let them know I'm not just a lunatic mom chasing an out-of-control kid around, they might be a little more understanding in putting up with whatever I have to do to get him thru the trip.
    I really think he'll be so excited to see his brother and new nephew that his excitement will override the anxiety until the plane is in motion. And hopefully the flight will be smooth so the first experience will be good, thus reducing anxiety for the next flight.
    If it goes south, I have the PRN. Just trying to be proactive...'cause once his anxiety is high, outside action and reaction can make or break the situation - he can calm down, or he can escalate, and escalation is NOT good - and that's another extremely fine line to walk.
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Will he have his own carry on suitcase? That can be good. If he has a snuggly make sure he has it. Picture of big bro? Put it in his little suitcase. Can he tell time yet? Show him how long till you get to brother. If he cant tell time...maybe make something that you can visually cue him how long till landing.

    One thing my step mom did when my boys flew home from their home to mine was give them a bag of presents. They were small dollar store things but they were wrapped and they could open one present every 15 minutes. It was a short You could adapt this. I thought this was brilliant. It kept them occupied and had their attention on what they were getting next instead of getting antsy in their seats. I traveled alone with three boys..2 hyper.
  13. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    If he's at all holding it together, I plan to have him drag around his own carry on. Give him a "task" to focus on. I'll put the important stuff in mine, but I'll fill his up with the "survival kit". lol

    The present idea is a good one. I plan to take some "emergency" things (the lego kits and the DS game), but I can use them, if I need to, to refocus, like you said, at intervals.

    Like I said, I'm hoping for a smooth trip, but trying to have lots of ideas and bases covered in case it isn't.
  14. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    It sounds to me like you've got a good number of bases covered. Another thing though to prep him for is all of the security issues. I don't know how long it's been since you've flown but EVERYONE removes their shoes and puts all of their stuff in totes to be xrayed. Carry on bags go on the conveyor but medications, stuff in your pockets, belts, purses....that all goes in the totes. Some airports have the scanners that you stand in also.

    Also, Janet mentioned the pilot giving him wings. difficult child got some when we flew in '01 (before 9/11) and I was a wreck. I don't remember exactly if they let him sit in a pilot seat or not but I was terrified he would start punching buttons and flipping levers because he WAS close enough to reach them. LOL So if they offer, that may or may not be a good idea for your difficult child. :tongue:

    As for the cards....that may not be a bad idea if they are only intended for the flight staff. I'm sure you could also call ahead and explain so the flight crew could get a heads up. Granted it won't help any idiots on the plane if difficult child gets too loud or has a meltdown but at least the crew will know what's going on and can hopefully handle the other passengers while you handle difficult child. Good luck! You're braver than I am! LOL
  15. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think they keep cockpit doors closed now but the pilot and the crew stand where they can greet you. I know if I was flying with Keyana we would board early and have her get her wings and she would be standing there greeting everyone and smiling and She wants to say HI! to everyone...lmao. Cory was like that too. I swear she is going to be a Walmart greeter.
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    A few suggestions from a been there done that mother.

    First - the cards are an interesting idea, but in the crisis sometimes it's difficult to reach in and grab a card especially if you literally have your hands full.
    What we did - (and you can do it with cards too) - we had a sticky schoolbook label (carry a sheet of them) and a fine felt pen ("sharpie"?) and I would write on the label - his name, his diagnosis and my mobile phonoe number. For a flight I would put his flight number on it too.
    Do two labels and stick one to his chest and another to his back (so there is still something there if he pulls off the front one - kids fiddle).

    Water - of course we can't carry on a bottle of water, but you CAN carry through an empty plastic bottle. We make sure the bottle is empty before we go through security (water their plants, or drink it all down in a hurry). Then re-fill it. That way you have a container of your choice, maybe with one of those pop-tops (convenient). And it's cheaper and healthier.

    To deal with the anxiety, give him an important task. You have your part in this too - document the trip for school (and for a social story afterwards). make sure your camera is out in whatever area it is permissible to be (you're not permitted to take photos through Customs and security in Australia). Tell him that you want him to write the story of the trip so he needs to find a way of recording the information. So he needs to pay attention and if possible, write it down during quiet moments (such as while waiting for boarding, or on the plane). difficult child 3 write using a small word processor but will also use a laptop.

    You take photos - difficult child at check-in, difficult child arriving at the airport, difficult child going to the security gate, difficult child reading the flight notice board, difficult child waiting in the departure lounge... andwhen he writes it, let him include anything he wants to. That's how we get such gems from difficult child 3 as the number of floors in the lift as we visited the Summit restaurant and the time it takes to make one complete revolution.

    Simply knowing we're doing this gives difficult child 3 a task to focus on which means he has no time to tink about being anxious. If he begins to say, "I'm nervous," we simply say, "Then remember for your writing task that you were feeling nervous at this point. It's OK to be nervous and it's OK to mention it. A lot of people feel nervous even though flying is safer than crossing the road." Then distract him with something to think about recording, such as "After we went through security we still had an hour to wait and we were hungry, so we found a Hungry Jacks and bought a hamburger each. I ate mine in four and a half minutes, I was so hungry."

    It helps to prime teachers with the advance knowledge of the exisgence (or possible future existence) of a document like this, your kid can get bonus points for it. And if when school goes back a topic is set such as "what I did in my holidays" then he has already written it!

    When difficult child 3 was younger, I wrote these for him. But he knew I was doing them and he would pose for photos and ask me to include certian information for him. I then put it togwther into a book for him and he would sit there reading it over and over. It was a story about HIM having an adventure - so he loved it! factual is best - difficult child 3 had an aide who wrote a fiction story about difficult child 3 in the same vein - he liked it but knew it wasn't true so only read it once.

    When dealing with other people and difficult child's issues - KISS. The autism is easiest to throw out there and explains just about everything they would see. Save the lnog explanations - one word says it all and will keep people off your back most successfully.

    I hope that helps.

  17. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    That's exactly the reason for having them...that and hopefully if he were to have a meltdown, they wouldn't immediately throw the unruly child off the plane or tell me to just "get him under control".

    Thanks for the ideas. Documenting the trip is a much better task than just seeing over his carry on bag...we can create a ton of things for him to "need" for his "my trip to CA" book...

    Oh, and that reminds me, he has a photo album with all the important people and animals in it that he loves to look at and share with others...hopefully I can remember to throw that in, too.