Spring break is coming! For many of us, spring means enjoying the sun over our heads and the sand under our toes. Many sensitive children, however, find trips to the beach or other exotic locations unbearable. This month, we’re going to focus on some common tactile triggers you might encounter on vacation.
No matter what your child’s particular triggers are, remember that preparation is key. Have her help you problem solve, plan, and pack as much as possible. Try new clothing or toiletries at home and make sure she has a chance to give input on each item. Above all, be honest about what to expect in your new environment and give her as much control over her own comfort as possible.
Keep reading for some common tactile triggers and a few tips for tackling each. Also, be sure to check out our previous article for some more general tips on traveling with sensory needs.
#1 – Sunscreen, lotion, and other toiletries
- Make sure to test every new product at home before you leave.
- Pack enough for your entire trip–you might not be able to find certain items elsewhere.
- Experiment with different types of applications–sunscreen sticks, shampoo bars, etc.
- Minimize the need for sunscreen by using sun shirts, hats, and protective clothing.
#2 – Unfamiliar or uncomfortable bedding
- Bring pillows, blankets, sleeping bags, or stuffed animals from home.
- Make bedding smell and feel familiar by bringing your own laundry detergent.
- Bring a favorite blanket to act as a barrier/comfortabel layer under the sheets.
#3 – Sand and unusual textures or temperatures
- Experiment with different types of shoes–open vs. closed sandals, water shoes, etc.
- Minimize exposure by wearing pants or gloves while playing on the beach.
- Try playing on different parts of the beach–loose, dry sand vs. wet, packed sand.
- Bring ice packs, hand warmers, etc. to help regulate temperature.
#4 – Insect repellant and bug bites
- Minimize exposure by wearing long sleeves and pants when possible.
- Experiment with different types of applications–wipes, wristbands, clips, sprays, etc.
- Use bug zappers or burn citronella candles or sticks when outside.
- Experiment with alternative repellants, such as essential oils.
- Pack hydrocortisone cream or ointment to soothe bites and stings.
- Be aware of your location–bugs are more prevalent by the water or in wooded areas.
#5 – Being crowded or bumped in public places
- Call ahead and see if your destination has accommodations for sensory sensitivities.
- Practice waiting in line at the grocery store or other crowded location.
- Practice deep breathing and anti-anxiety techniques.
- Talk it out–remind your child that people who might bump into her are doing it accidentally and are not trying to be rude or hurtful.