This week's article comes to us courtesy of Sally Jacks:
Travelling with a child who has ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) can be very stressful and is unlikely to be something that you can do spontaneously. Children with ADHD tend to be driven by routine and like to know exactly what to expect whenever they enter any new situation. However with plenty of preparation and planning, it is possible to have a fun vacation that the whole family can enjoy. Here are a few top tips for travelling with a child with ADHD:
Find Routine Where You Can
Children with ADHD tend to be creatures of habit who are more comfortable within the confines of a regular and familiar routine. Whilst it would be impossible to transfer all of their home routines to their vacation destination, establishing new routines and sticking to them during your stay will give your child some familiar navigation points, making the adjustment to vacation time much easier. This routine can be anything that works for you and your family, from eating the same breakfast in the same café each morning, to reading the same bedtime story from home each evening. If you know that your child has times of the day when their behaviour can be particularly difficult then these are the ideal times in which to aim to establish a new and familiar routine which may help to settle them.
Involve Your Child in the Vacation Planning
When entering a new situation, such as going on vacation, most children will benefit from knowing what is going to happen and what to expect, and this is particularly true for children who have ADHD. Mark the date that you are going on your vacation in your child’s calendar, and then help them count down to the date each day: this will help them to begin mentally for preparing for the changes that vacations bring. When sharing your daily countdown, you should also share other vital details about your trip such as where your child will be sleeping and what daily activities they will be participating in: the more information you can share with your child, the easier the transition to a new vacation routine and schedule will be for them.
Schedule Some down Time into Your Vacation
Vacations are both exciting and expensive: the culmination of these two factors means that our instinct is to cram as much as we possibly can into every moment of our vacation time. However for a child who has ADHD, this constant stream of stimulation and excitement can simply become too overwhelming. If you’re taking a vacation with a child who has ADHD then, it is important that you allow plenty of time in your day for your child to relax and enjoy some down time in a safe space away from the constant vacation stimulation. Bring along some of their favourite downtime activities from home: they will find comfort in their familiarity, and ensure that there is a nice comfortable space where they are free to relax. Drawing pads, reading books, or even some quiet screen time can all be beneficial.
A Great Time For Etiquette Reminders
ADHD children generally have poor social skills, and aren’t very good at picking up on cues for how they are expected to behave. Travelling and spending time on vacation is the perfect time to reinforce these etiquette messages and help your child to learn how and when they should be picking up on certain social signals. If you are visiting with friends or family, for example, then this is the ideal situation to remind them of when they need to say hello/goodbye, please/thank you, and the importance of having good manners and being aware of the feelings and needs of others. There are many benefits of travel for children with ADHD, and with the right planning and preparation, it can be a really wonderful experience for the whole family!
“ADHD Travel Advice”, Additude Magazine, http://www.additudemag.com/topic/parenting-adhd-children/holiday-travel.html
“ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder)”, Psych Guides, http://www.psychguides.com/guides/adhd-attention-deficithyperactive-disorder/
“7 tips for travelling with an ADHD/ADD child”, Everyday Health, http://www.everydayhealth.com/adhd/living-with/tips/traveling-tips.aspx
“Common characteristics of ADHD”, Santa Monica College, https://www.smc.edu/StudentServices/DisabilityResources/Pages/Common-Characteristics-of-ADHD.aspx
“What are some signs and symptoms of ADHD?” American Speech Language Hearing Association, http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/ADHD/#signs
“Travelling with ADHD: More than packing a suitcase”, Dana Rayburn: ADHD Coach and Author, http://danarayburn.com/traveling-with-adhd-morethan-packing-a-suitcase/