Books and Activities to Help Special Needs Children Prepare for Air Travel
The first trip on an airplane can be exciting but also intimidating. Often books are a great way of preparing children for an unknown experience. Books about air travel do not necessarily need to be geared toward special needs children but can be helpful for all children preparing for their first flight. In addition to helping children with special needs, the following books would also be beneficial for an anxious child who wants to understand what to expect.
My First Airplane Ride by Patricia Hubbell
This book has very simple text and brings a child through every step of the airplane process including parking the car, going through security, getting boarding passes, finding the seat, and more. For older kids it would be beneficial to use the illustrations in the book to discuss more detail of the process and what they will actually experience the day of the trip.
The Noisy Airplane Ride by Mike Downs
For children who may be overwhelmed with new sounds this book introduces the noises they will hear throughout the flight including the engines, the seat-belt sign, and the air conditioning. It also covers visual and sensory issues your child may encounter. Reading this book in advance of a trip may help ease anxiety when a strange noise or experience is encountered on the day of the flight.
Airport by Bryon Barton
Another book with simple text, engaging illustrations and a description of the entire flight process that starts with passengers arriving at the airport. This book also provides information about what happens to the luggage and how the plane is readied for take off. Giving your child an full understanding of the process can help ready them for the upcoming trip.
Also Consider Role Play
Books are a fantastic way to start a conversation about the flight experience. Consider using books as a launching point and then follow up with role playing. If you think your child will be concerned about going through the metal detector alone set up a fake on in your home (using laundry baskets for example) and practice the process. Include details like taking off shoes and putting any carry-ons down adjacent to the metal detector. Have you child go through successfully and then demonstrate what happens if the alarm goes off for yourself. Express that it isn't a big deal through the demonstration to help ease concerns in advance.
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