I worked for The Department of Services for People with Disabilities for ten years. I was a caseworker for people who were low functioning. There are many types of disabilities, mental as well as physical limitations. This can be a challenge for the parent or guardian when traveling at any time and during the holiday rush it can be an even bigger challenge.
With preparation and organization those with disabilities can travel just as well as anyone else. Here are some ideas and tips to make your holiday traveling easier and less stressful.
Pack everything the child will need or want in a carry on bag that can be used in the airport and will clear security. It might be a favorite toy, simple electronic gadgets, and favorite foods. If they are old enough to understand explain what to expect when arriving at the airport starting at the ticket counter, proceeding through security and then the wait before boarding the plane.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has the following tips for easy and safe travel with the minimum of hassle:
Parents or guardians of children with disabilities should... Inform the Security Officer if the child has any special needs or medical devices.
Inform the Security Officer if you think the child may become upset during the screening process as a result of their disability.
Offer suggestions on how to best accomplish the screening to minimize any confusion or outburst for the child.
Ask the Security Officer for assistance during the process by helping you put your and the child's carry-on items on the X-ray belt.
Know that at no time during the screening process will you be separated from your child. Know that if a private screening is required, you should escort and remain with your child during the private screening process.
Tell the Security Officer what are your child's abilities are. For example: can the child stand slightly away from equipment to be hand wanded, walk through the metal detector, or needs to be carried through the metal detector by the parent/guardian.
Know that all no time should the Security Officer remove your child from his/her mobility aid (wheelchair or scooter). You are responsible for removing your child from his/her equipment at your discretion to accomplish screening.
Know that if your child is unable to walk or stand, the Security Officer will conduct a pat-down search of your child while he/she remains in their mobility aid, as well as a visual and physical inspection of their equipment.
I have observed pat-down's being done on several occasions on people who are in wheelchairs. The officer in each instance has been very polite and considerate of the feelings of the person in the wheel chair. This is something that could be practiced at home. Role play with the child as to what will happen with the pat down at the airport so they will know what to expect. With organization and planning you can have a happy and pleasant travel experience during this busy holiday season.
Reference: Marilyn is a creative organizer who has been organizing for over 20 years. She is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and is working towards becoming a Certified Professional Organizer. Professionally she has been organizing homes and offices for two years. She holds a bachelors degree in Social Work. She has reared five daughters and currently lives in Utah. Go to her website www.marilynbohn.com where you can find free organizing tips and interesting blogs and helpful articles on organizing.