Family Holidays for Children with Learning Disabilities
For most, family holidays are a chance to get away from routine and have fun, but children with learning disabilities can find the experience daunting.
The change of environment and routine can cause added anxiety for children with learning difficulties or autistic spectrum disorder. Every child is different, but there are a few ways to make going on holiday easier on your child.
Sometimes the act of going away from the places they are used to, the travel itself, is particularly difficult for children. If you listen to Relax Kids CDs at home, you can play their favourite one in the car on the way there. Bringing reminders of your home routine with you should help ease their anxiety.
Many children with learning disabilities have an over-sensitivity to lights, sounds, smells and touch. The experience of a new place, particularly if you are going abroad, can create a sensory overload and can cause children to feel overwhelmed and start to panic.
Bringing some sensory objects with you, like light-up toys, lavender scented pillows or a bag of marbles can help distract children when they feel overwhelmed.
Relax Kids Star Cards are also a good distraction and a wonderful way to help children address how they are feeling. Let children try and pick which ‘star’ they are. Or, children can pick a card and try and think about that emotion, or even try and be that emotion. For example, ‘courageous star’ can help children feel brave.
Another way to help children feel better on holiday is to remind them that the trip is temporary and it won’t be long before they return to their usual routine. Try asking questions like, “would you like me to cook this meal when we are at home?” or “Do you like swimming? Shall we go swimming again when we are at home?”
Going on holiday will be more of a challenge for children with a learning disability, but as a family, together you can find ways to make things a little easier and help children enjoy themselves!