Summer is an excellent time to visit an amusement park thanks to great outdoor weather and extra time off from school. However, it's also a time when crowds are larger, which can create an overstimulating experience for a child with attention issues, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. It's important to prepare your child before a trip to the theme park to better manage her expectations and enhance her experience at the park. Here are a few key tips to consider:
Do Your Research
Before heading out to any theme park, make sure you research the amusement park's policy on disabilities accommodations and make sure they have the services you need. Also, check calendars for days that have less crowds so you have a more sensory-friendly experience for your child.
Prepare Your Child
Ask your child about what he would like to do at the park and get him involved in the planning. Work together to create a schedule and go over what your child should expect during his visit at the park. Review rules for good behavior and what you are expecting from your child.
Stick to the Schedule
When you switch up the schedule, it can alter your child's expectations. Having a schedule helps add structure to your child's day, and it makes it easier to manage her expectations.
Make a Plan for Handling Meltdowns
Always be prepared in the event your child experiences a meltdown at the park and have a plan to deal with the meltdown, such as deep breathing exercises or coaching her through the emotions. Pay attention so you can spot when she is having a problem dealing with a change, such as her getting restless when waiting in line too long.
Leverage the Park's Disability Services
Some theme parks provide extra assistance for children with disabilities and assistance for parents, too. For example, Walt Disney World offers specially designated break areas for children with cognitive disabilities who need to some time away from the crowds. The park also offers a Rider Switch program that enables parents to switch spots to stay with your child who does not want to go on a ride while the other parent enjoys the attractions without having to wait in line. Make sure you take advantage of these services to help improve your child's time at the park.
The summertime can easily drive big crowds to an amusement park, and it can get overwhelming for a child with ADHD. But with a little preparation, you can manage your child's expectations and make their experience at the theme park more enjoyable.