Traveling with Your Special Needs Child--for Children with ADHD, It’s All about Good Planning
Family vacations are all about seeing new places, experiencing new cultures and learning new things--about the world, and about each other. For parents with an ADHD child, ensuring that vacation is fun--and relaxing--for every member of the family is also about smart planning.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, ADHD is a neurobiological disorder characterized by impulsivity, lack of attention and hyperactivity. Children with ADHD appreciate routine and can easily become overstimulated. That said, there’s no reason you and your ADHD son or daughter can’t have the time of your lives, if you follow these 5 simple tips:
Plan Your Destination Carefully: particularly if your child is not accustomed to high-stimulation environments, you probably want to avoid theme parks which can be highly stressful for some children with ADHD. Initially at least, it’s better to choose a low-stress vacation, perhaps a family hike, backpacking or a picnic. This doesn’t mean that you can’t take your ADHD child to a theme park--if you do, call ahead to customer relations to see if they have special programs--many do, for example, permitting ADHD children to go to the front of long waiting lines.
Add Plenty of Structure: it’s important to build as much predictability and routine into your days on vacation. Have highly-structured schedules, with consistent times for waking up and going to bed. Family vacations are a time to unwind, but for your ADHD child, structure is important.
Consult Your Doctor About Medications: don’t just assume that you can take your child off his or her medication because the family is on vacation. For some children with ADHD, there can’t be any break in their medications. Your best bet is to consult with your physician, who can tell you whether it’s appropriate for your child to take a break from medications. Also, be sure to bring your doctor’s contact information with you in case you need help.
Avoid High-Risk Foods: children tend to associate vacation with fun foods, many of which have a high sugar content and high fat content. These can exacerbate hyperactivity and you should avoid them. You should also steer clear of foods containing red dye 40, and have regularly-scheduled meal times throughout the day.
Keep Your Eyes Open: adequately supervising your ADHD child is just as important--perhaps more so--on vacation as when you’re in the familiar environment of home and community. Almost every vacation destination abounds with safety risks. Keep your eyes open to make sure your child doesn’t wander off or engage in risky behavior.
Special needs children have as much right as children who don’t face these challenges to happy (and healthy) vacations. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy almost any vacation with your ADHD child, if you exercise some common-sense planning and follow these tips.
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From Parents, Travel Writers,