Because children with hemiplegia often have to work so hard to move their bodies, they sometimes tire quickly, especially on vacations. Parents from our online discussion group offer their ideas and tips for more enjoyable vacations and travel. General recommendations for traveling with a child with hemiplegia include:
- It’s really okay to get a disability parking permit. Your child will qualify for the permit and usually the doctor just signs a form from your local or state’s department of motor vehicles. Don’t feel guilty about getting the permit. If you need to use it to make life easier for your child, then use it. You don’t have to use it all the time – just when it’s needed.
- Remember to stop and enjoy the vacation – it’s not a race
- Children with hemiplegia tire more quickly, so build in some down time and maybe extra time for naps
- Hungry children are often cranky children, so pack a few snacks and water or juice boxes
- If your child has epilepsy, check out nearby hospitals and keep a list, especially if you’re driving in a rural area. If the epilepsy is not well controlled, you may want to check with the Emergency Room doctors about their procedures for handling a seizure. Your child’s doctor may want to provide a letter with more detailed information.
- Remember to pack extra medication in case you’re delayed during travel. Carry on medications if traveling by air.
We went to Disneyworld last spring. We had contacted Walt Disney World guest Communications, explaining our situation and concerns with Matthew. Disney world does an excellent job accommodating individuals with disabilities and I would recommend that you take advantage of what they can provide to make the trip more enjoyable. We also rented a larger stroller from Care medical equipment called the MaClaren stroller. They delivered it right to the hotel and picked it up when we left. 407-856-2273. We booked our trip through AAA and they did most of the leg work for us. It is well worth looking into. – Sara
Our Disney experience was made better by renting the larger double stroller. It was wider and could accommodate more weight for our older child and the extra room was used to put jackets and extras into. These are available at most any amusement park. We also went to guest services immediately upon arrival and requested a disability pass. This allowed easier and most times quicker access to the rides. We brought a doctors slip, but they didn’t ask for it. You do need to have the child with you when you go in. Also, taking advantage of the kid swap program on most rides would let one parent stay behind with one child, while another rode the ride with a second child. At the end of the ride, the parents swap and the second child gets to go on the ride again right away with the other parent. – Joni
We took a note from the doctor to the Disney service area and they issued an Express Pass. We were told that a note was unnecessary, but they did ask about the disability. The pass does restrict the number of people who could go with her, but our family of four was put through. We were not able to rent a scooter for her inside Disney and had to contract with a company who would rent a scooter to a minor. We found it helpful to stay on the property. – Kim
Take advantage of all the Disney transportation. Take the bus, the monorail, and the ferry boat. My kids considered all of these a “ride”. They are all fun. – Tanya
Disney is not a relaxing vacation. You’ll likely need a vacation from your vacation once you get back, but it’s a lot of fun and worth it. Regardless of what hotel you stay at, you’ll need to do some walking. – Kelli
Sea World Orlando
We stopped by special services and they wrote a pass for our son, just like they do at Disney. Our son has visible braces and an unusual gait, but they didn’t see him walk when they gave us teh pass. The pass allowed our entire family to go through the exit on many rides. Our son is 5 years old and uses a stroller for long distances. – Karen
We live in Florida so we treated the three kids to a ski trip this winter in Big Bear, CA. They have the biggest adaptive program in the country. Lauren, 12 years old with hemiplegia who cannot ride a two wheeler, was amazing and skied for both days in the adaptive lessons. She wanted a third day but the parents were exhausted. The cost was $85 per day for 6 hours of private instruction. We were able to ski with her and the instructor as much as we wanted. There are several resorts around the country that offer this program. Alpine in Tahoe, Heavenly at Tahoe, Winter Park, Co are a few that I checked into. What a great feeling for her self esteem as she could do something that her brother and sister could do. She was better than me and this was a great experience for her. – Jill