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DALLAS, TX, February 29, 2020 /24-7PressRelease/ -- For parents with special needs children, a vacation is an excellent opportunity for their family to experience joy together while creating positive associations and fun family memories, which can help them get through stressful times. Traveling also offers opportunities for special needs children to practice and improve social and communication skills while simultaneously promoting their cognitive growth.
However, families with special needs children may avoid traveling due to the many challenges that could arise along their journey. Navigating provisions and accessibility for hotel accommodations, attractions, and modes of transportation can be a daunting task for special needs parents. The following tips provided by the experts at The Warren Center can help special needs parents overcome challenges associated with traveling:
o Create a travel kit
• Pack a lunchbox with a few of your child's favorite foods, so hunger doesn't add to the stress of traveling. Also, pack your child's favorite toy, book, or tablet to help keep your child entertained.
o Air Travel Tips
• Let the airline know you are traveling with a special needs child and try to book a seat together near the front of the plane or near the bathroom.
• Introduce your child to flying by reading books about airports and airplanes, watching videos, or planning a visit to an airport to get them more familiar with the process. Some airports have created mock flights or may allow families to do a walkthrough or practice airport situation before the big travel day.
• The TSA has a helpline for individuals with special needs called TSA Cares. Travelers may call 1-855-787-2227 before traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint. When a passenger with a disability or medical condition calls TSA Cares, a representative will provide information about screening that is relevant to the passenger's specific disability or medical condition, or the passenger may be referred to disability experts at TSA. TSA recommends that passengers call approximately 72 hours ahead of travel so that TSA Cares has the opportunity to coordinate checkpoint support with a TSA Customer Service Manager located at the airport when necessary.
o Traveling by car
• Sit in the backseat with your child to limit distractions to the driver and create closer access to your child if they need assistance or want to be entertained.
• Plan for frequent stops to restock snacks, take bathroom breaks, and reduce crankiness from lack of exercise.
• Try shorter road trips first to help your child get acclimated to road trips. Practice by taking short 3-hour road trips before driving across the country.
• To keep your child safe and secure in the car, consider putting covers on the buckles in the backseat, and keep the child lock on so that the rear doors cannot be opened from the inside. Also, make sure your child is safely secured in their car seat and that it is installed correctly. You can make the car seat more comfortable by adding a layer of quilt batting underneath the seat cover.
• Some hotels may provide equipment such as shower chairs or hospital beds, but you must call and speak to the hotel manager in advance of your trip. You can also rent equipment locally during your stay.
• Most major hotel chains offer wheelchair-accessible rooms with accessible bathrooms, but they must be reserved in advance. Families who enjoy camping may buy or rent an extra-large tent for wheelchair accessibility.
For families that are unable to travel over spring break. The experts at The Warren Center rounded up their favorite sensory-friendly activities across the DFW Metroplex to create a fun staycation.
o Dallas Zoo
• Each quarter, the Dallas Zoo welcomes those with sensory-friendly needs and their families for a "Sensory-Friendly Day." Sound adjustments, sensory activities, and quiet zones are provided throughout the zoo. Check their events page for the next Sensory-Friendly Day. Additionally, the Dallas Zoo offers sensory bags, equipped with noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads will also be available to those who may feel overwhelmed by the environment. Dallas Zoo guests will also have exclusive access to a dedicated sensory room designed by medical professionals during designated Sensory Friendly events for those who may need a quieter space. Guests can pick up a sensory bag at the Information Booth across from the Endangered Species Carousel.
o Crayola Experience Plano
• Head to the Crayola Experience in Plano for Sensory Sundays. This fun, hands-on attraction is great for the entire family and is offered every month on Sundays from 9 to 11 a.m. They host special morning programming for kids and families looking to experience the attraction adapted just for sensory needs with accommodations including, dimmed lights, music will be turned off and quiet spaces.
o Ann Eisemann Inclusive Playground
• The Ann Eisemann Inclusive Playground is an 11,000-square-foot Parks & Recreation amenity located in Richardson's Cottonwood Park. The park features: separate play areas for ages 2-5 and ages 5-12, a poured-in-place rubber safety surface, four types of swings, including traditional "belt" swings and "tot buckets" as well as high-backed, plastics seats that provide added support, and two-person swings, in which a child and an adult face each other, an adaptive merry-go-round, in which children can sit in molded plastic seats next to children who are standing, double see-saw and a tire swing, two "roller slides," which provide faster movement and more muscle/joint sensation, adjacent, accessible, family-style restroom with a drinking fountain and a sensory garden. The playground also includes concrete walkways and an extensive ramp system, which provides access to decks, climbing equipment and slides. It is open daily, sunrise to sunset.
About the Warren Center
The Warren Center is a nonprofit agency providing professional evaluations, therapy services and support to children with developmental delays and disabilities. The center serves over 1000 children each week as well as their families. Services include speech, occupational and physical therapy; developmental services; and nutrition as well as family education and support. The Early Childhood Intervention Program serves the entire northern half of Dallas County in 48 ZIP codes. For more information, please visit https://www.thewarrencenter.org or follow The Warren Center on Facebook and Twitter.
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