Do you need a sensory survival kit? Here’s why you may need one more than you think.
Autism has created a small radius for our family. Part of breaking out of this boundary is thoughtful family travel: choose destinations that make sense, travel at times that are less crowded, in weather that is not extreme, and for not too long at time. Be thoughtful on where you stay and make allowances for everyone’s needs. In other words, take your complexly balanced system that works at home, and take it on the road.
And if that travel involves an airplane, you’ll want a “sensory survival kit.”
The Early Years
When Mr. Diggy was diagnosed, he was just 2 years old. We had a 5-year-old to keep busy. We had trips planned to see grandparents. We just figured we would take our then-brand-new life systems and keep on trying to make travel work for our family. Then, when he was about 4, we hit a wall. Two back to back-to-back trips sent us into a nearly four-year hiatus from flying.
Hitting the wall
At regular intervals, we try to get our boys together with their only first cousins, my husband’s sister’s twin boys. One of these trips involved meeting in Montana, a place I have visited on more than one occasion and is generally laid-back and family friendly. It is not, however, a place to which you can fly via a direct flight very easily. So we booked a connecting flight from California, through Seattle, with a plan to arrive in Montana around noon. Just before we were to board our flight to Seattle, it was announced that the plane was being taken out of service for mechanical reasons.
Now, of course, we appreciate the need for safety, but it would mean we would miss our connecting flight. Our choice became fly to Seattle and spend the day there, waiting for the only other flight to Montana, or go home and come back twelve hours later, still arriving in Montana at the same time – midnight. We opted to go home, but realized we were in no way prepared for an in-airport delay, much less one of such length.
A second incident involved another passenger who walked away from security with the wrong laptop. It was a MacBook without a cover- easy to do. And don’t get me wrong — I would be devastated if I lost my MacBook. I sympathized, to a point, but 30 minutes after our departure time, when the cabin door was STILL open to accommodate her trying to swap it back, I was losing it, and Mr. Diggy was done – and we hadn’t even left the ground.
Sensory Survival Kit
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