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July 5, 2023 58 mins

We've assembled three experts to discuss the tips and tricks, and unique challenges and joys of taking a family vacation with a child with a disability. 

Sheila Harman is a mom to four, some of whom have special needs, and a Travel Agent with Magical Vacation Planner. Sheila was led to her career after realizing that even families of children with special needs wanted...and NEEDED a vacation but vacations didn't always appear to be accessible for one reason or another. Sheila works to take the stress out of the planning. She provides everything from individualized packing lists to local emergency services information to families, just in case! IYKYK! 

Dr. Brandy Brown is an Occupational Therapist and mom to a child with a disability. As an OT, she has worked with countless children to participate in and enjoy daily life. In this episode, she shares strategies from her professional lens for preparing a child with special needs for vacation and enjoying it. She also shares from her momma lens all of her own travel and vacation successes and even those times that weren't so successful...

Sandy Corbett is a Clinical Social Worker with the Positive Behavior Support program at the CED. Challenges associated with traveling or vacationing are not limited to accessibility and mobility equipment, many families experience struggles related to their child's behaviors when vacationing. Sandy is here to remind parents to give themselves and their children grace during the stressful chaos that is leaving home for a vacation. Sandy shares how to prepare a child for the overstimulating experience and how to navigate sensory overload, meltdowns, and judgement from others. 

All in all, our expert panelists have a consensus view on taking that family trip with your child with special needs....Just Go. 

Accessible recreation in WV

Autism specific travel resources and directory 

Autism on the Seas - includes programs for all special needs

Traveling with a disability - Department of Transportation guidelines


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Sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Office of Maternal, Child, and Family Health/Children with Special Health Care Needs Program and the West Virginia Family 2 Family Health Information Center and Produced by the West Virginia University Center for Excellence in Disabilities. 


Episode transcript available here. 

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