Children of Determination.. Tips for traveling

As we are approaching summer season in UAE, families are currently planning their trips and bookings and flights. The process is not as easy for families with children of determination. The process of traveling is complicated for them as they have to think multiple times and be cautious before they buy tickets, book hotels, etc. This is due to their children needs and the unlimited number of concerns.

Here we share some tips for parents and decision makers,

First, tips for parents

  • Match your child needs: It is advised to include your child of determination in the process of choosing their preferred traveling destination, this can help significantly during the trip later on.
  • Prime well ahead of time: Make some time with your child every day for 2 weeks or more prior to the trip to explain about the trip details, airport, airplanes, hotels and the places you’ll be visiting using materials like pictures, videos and social stories, just don’t forget to take those materials with you on the trip, you’ll need them.
  • The bag of treasures: Buy multiple new small sized toys and keep them in a bag for later during the trip and make sure your child sees you stuffing the bag with those toys. Later you’ll be offering one toy at a time based on your child’s choice when he is cooperative.
  • Define the steps of the traveling visually: it is advised to keep pictures of the anticipated steps of the trip with you, (e.g., picture of Riding car, picture of airport building, picture of airport from inside, etc.), use these pictures to inform your child about the following event.
  • On the day of traveling: Do your best to limit the waiting time inside the airport the less time, the better it is.
  • Asking for help: as you approach the check in, ask the employees for help to get you through faster. It is your child’s right by law.
  • Visual timer will assist: using the visual timers that the child can monitor to know when is the current event is finishing will assist your child to be calm and cooperative especially on the airplane. Just don’t forget to use it for a while at home before traveling if you weren’t using them already.
  • Sound blockers or sound cancelation headphones are essential in your child’s trips. They cancel the loud noises that can trigger sensory overload reactions.
  • Avoid distraction for longer periods: It is advised to avoid longer periods of time without talking to your child. By giving your attention every few minutes to your child, you may limit the need for it, hence the need to engage in attention seeking problem behaviors.
  • Enjoy your time and divide the responsibilities: assigning tasks for all family members can really help you enjoy your time (e.g. Mother is responsible for bathroom use, father is responsible for meals and eating, big sister is responsible for the visual schedule and the visual timer, etc.).


Second, tips for decision makers

  • Sensory friendly family lounge is needed: It is advised to create a sensory friendly rooms or lounges in every airport. Those spaces are quite with low music volume and lower lighting. Furnished with consideration for safety of children of determination and wide enough to allow their mobility and play.
  • Cabin crew on board with families: When cabin crew of UAE national airlines are trained on understanding the needs of children of determination and how to treat them, they will be a great asset to the children and their families during every step of the flight.
  • Inflight play capsules: as much as this might seem ambitious, having an airplane play capsules that fits an adult and a child, where children of determination and one of their family members can use during the flights, can really ease the intensity of the flights for the children, especially for the longer flights.


Mahmoud Abdelrahim Mahmoud., MEd., IBA., QBA., BCBA

Early intervention Program Director

Training Manager

ABA advisor

Sanad Village – Dubai


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