Sapna, Parent to 5 yr old boy with Speech delay, autistic traits
We wanted to visit our family in India, but we were not sure how our son would handle the long journey. It is a 14 hour non-stop flight, followed by another 3 hour flight. Our son is very active. At home, he is constantly on the move. He is fairly verbal but sometimes he makes sounds. He also has some sensory issue – likes to tap on surfaces, fiddles a lot with objects.
We tried our best to prepare. We took a lot of books to read, favorite videos to watch, music that he likes listening to along with earphones. We also took some portable activities like magnetic puzzles and mazes, coloring book, etc. We took a few things to stim on, as rewards for the activities. We also took some foods that take time to consume – apples, pears, etc. Another thing we did is we kept him awake the whole day and avoided naps. Since check-in for international flights is 3 hours long, most kids get tired by the time they get on the airplane.
Overall, it went much better that expected. He actually slept for 6 hours, which was great. At least 2 to 3 hours were taken up by the meals – they take a long time to set up – he wanted to try everything and was very excited every time it was meal time.
The activities did not last very long. But the music helped him a lot. I think he sort of got the idea that we are stuck, there’s no chance of getting down. So he seemed to accept this after a while.
One problem we had was he would try to stand up in his seat a few times. We would make him sit down, and he would comply, but this behavior invited some stares and mean looks from a few passengers. Other than that, it wasn’t too bad. We had so many fears and concerns, but he did okay.
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