Wednesday, July 15, 2009

RAD and family vacation

Anonymous needs our help for her first family vacation. So please throw some ideas out there for her. Here is what I came up with. I will say we take few of them because our family is so big and it is a lot of $$$.

Car trips: Come up with as many car games as you can. Finding all the license plates in the US, finding the ABC's on signs, looking for certain colors of cars, car Bingo. Our kids have personal DVD players and get some good DVDs for time when you need them. I don't know how long your trip is. Get some healthy snacks for in the car because chances are the food eating out won't be that great.

Motel: Try to keep bed times as regular as you can. Cranky on top of RAD is BAD. Make sure the child does not have access to the motel door at night. You can bring an alarm if you need too but the dangers of them wandering through a motel alone are great. If you can get a motel with a pool so they can burn off some energy.

Physical activity: Kids with RAD need physical excursion. If you are on a long car trip or doing activities that don't involve much movement give them some running time. Have them demonstrate how to hop on one foot to that pole over there, walk backyards, crawl, etc. Find a playground so they can play for awhile.

In public: Have them hold your hand. Keep them close and watch them at all times. Kids with RAD require close supervision. Don't worry about what other people say about your child's behavior. They don't know. If you need to kindly reply "We're working on it" as of you brilliant moms said.

Take along stacks of books, coloring books, as many activities as you have room for. Enjoy what you see with your child and point out interesting things around you. It is easy to get caught up in their behavior and focus on that. Instead of that, focus on all around you there is to learn about. Distract them by changing the subject and finding new things. Changing the subject often works for my kids because of their ADHD.

Don't take it all too seriously. Don't try to make the vacation perfect. Know there are going to be some tough times and just don't let it get too you. If necessary plan a little time for you to get alone to shop, see a movie or at least go to the motel lobby to read the paper and have a cup of coffee. Take care of the mom!!


Brenda said...

Life's Mom: I hope it is ok if I move your comment to here. I think we were writing at the same time and I want to make sure Anon sees it. I will say reward consequence doesn't work for us. We rarely tell what the plans are because they seem to escalate the behavior. We just say "We will tell you as we go". We reward good behavior instantly.

"Life's Mom here -

Anon B - Your daughter has a friend?? :) Then you are ahead of us!

For the upcoming trip, do anything that you can do to lessen the insecurity of the new environment. Show her pictures on the internet of where you are going. Make out a tentative schedule and go over it with her so she knows what to expect. Try as much as possible to stay on the schedule. RAD kids do not typically transition well. Help to walk her through transition times. With my daughter, it usually helps to have a reward/consequence out there. I might say "and if you can go all day in the car and through lunch without speaking disrespectfully to anyone in the family or throwing a fit, then I would be so happy to sit out by the pool when we arrive at the hotel. If you throw a fit or are disrespectul, then we will just have a rest time at the hotel once we arrive." This is what works well for us, but all kids are different, so you might change this us as to what might work for you."

Virginia said...

This is B's mom (Anon), Virginia. I finally set up and account. Anyway thanks for the advice. It sounds like I will have to see what works. Fortunately, I'm not new to the behaviors, so I can make sure I'm being alert.

B's behaviors with strangers aren't as pronounced as some that I've been reading about. Mostly starting conversations, about books she's reading or things she's doing...often sounds like bragging to me. Interrupting when I'm talking with the cashier is one that I frequently see, too.

It is nice that B has a friend...but, really only one. A lot of other kids don't tolerate B's over-the-top behaviors well. B has known this little girl since I adopted her at age 4 and has a very laid-back, accepting personality when it comes to B. At 11, though, B really notices that others don't invite her to things.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge here.

peggysue said...

We just took a camping trip with my mom, which was very stressful for all of us . . . my mom's first trip without my dad, who passed away this year, and also, she is not fond of DD at all . . .

Here are some coping strategies we did . . .

She has a favorite book on tape, the Chronicles of Narnia, that fascinates her for hours while driving, might work for you. Or a tape of classical music, or something to which she enjoys singing along. Maybe make up a tape of favorite songs before you go and you can play 'her' music once in a while while you travel?

Different surprises under your seat that you pull out at appropriate moments, like Silly Putty, a small maze book, little things that don't cost a lot but can make travel easier for any child.

To help burn off energy at rest stops, a frisbee, a skipping rope.

We also don't give out schedules in advance, because this is one of the control issues with our daughter. We tell her to trust that we know where we are going and what we are doing.

Holding hands is important, as I told in an earlier post, my daughter disappeared while at a playground on vacation. I don't know how you'd hold hands on a playground, but you need to be watchful.

We also reward good behavior with ice cream, a trip to the playground, finding a campground with a swimming pool for her to play . . . but none of these are automatic, the key is they have to be earned. After disappearing at the playground she lost all of those privileges.

Having reasons to call her back to you when she starts talking to strangers. Unless we were out doing something, once we returned to the campground my daughter would go to the people camping next to us to play with their dog. She isn't safe around pets because she doesn't respect the animals' boundaries, respond to their warning signs, so I would have her come back and help with a task, like getting water, or have her do a puzzle . . . have a list ready.

My two cents, hope it helps.

Hannah said...

Again, I am thankful that Gabe's behaviors in this realm are mild. YAY!

As for car trips, Focus on the Family Radio Theater has been a lifesaver for us. When we went to my mom's house on a 13 hour car trip last Christmas we listened to the entire Chronicles of Narnia Radio Theater set going to and from. AMAZING! Gabe really got into and got upset when we had to stop at an exciting part. :) Makes the time go by so fast. We are getting "The Hiding Place" and "BonHoffer, The Cost of Freedom" for our end of summer trip.They have Adventures in Odyssey too, which is always a winner in my book.



Rose Adoption Journey said...

I ditto what everyone says. Here is my quick summary of what helps us.

1. Help them find out as much about where you are going as possible before the trip to alleviate any unknowns.

2. Keep meal schedules and bedtime schedules as close to home schedules as possible.

3. Let them pick out things they want to do in the car

4. Take some rest stop breaks....we have our boys do jumping jacks and races at the rest stops since they are safe to run around.

5. Water is the best energizer on vacations. We get the flavor packs(Crystal light etc) to add if they get bored with water. NO SODAS!

6. Try not to take things too seriously. Handle discipline the same way you would handle it at home. (no matter what anyone else thinks! Relatives can be very judgemental sometimes.)

Enjoy yourself!

Brenda said...

Great ideas. I also want to add that we increase the "You are safe. We are not going to leave you" assurances during trips as it causes the flight, fight or freeze part of their brains to kick into over drive. A lot of reassuring past on the back, high fives and hugging as they feel comfortable with.

BeckyJoie at Leaders in Learning said...

Oooh, I like your ideas for car trips, etc. Thanks for sharing.

Kathy said...

For the very few trips we take, not because we don't love to travel but because with 6 kids a couple of them flaming rad it's just not worth it, we do a few things. First, we rent a 15 passenger van. This gives the most dangerous and inflammatory children their own seats. Second, we rent a hotel room instead of staying with family. Then we can keep bedtime routines more easily and avoid overstimulation. We also take tons of food. Helps with insecurity. We actually had a successful disneyland trip this year, but had to get a pass at "City Hall" on main street to help my strugglingest rad child deal with the whole thing. It enabled us to wait elsewhere than with the crowds. Worked perfectly!

Virginia said...

We have returned from our overnight trip to KC. It went quite well. Some things that I think helped:
1. bringing books to read
2. bringing a friend
3. incentive for good behavior (I brought a roll of quarters for B, but took a quarter away each time she acted inappropriately to anyone...she got to use the remaining quarters for anything...she got all but one)
4. on the trip home, I had quarters that she had earned from allowance (doing chores) and took those away for inappropriateness

The trip home was more difficult and seemed much longer that the trip there, but overall things went smoothly. I did get to relax a bit, as the kids both had friends and a built-in buddy system. Thanks for all the ideas...they helped a lot.

Brenda said...

Virginia!!! It sounds like it went very well. Most of us are just so jealous your child has a friend!!

Virginia said...

B is very lucky...she has known her friend since I adopted B when she was four (she's almost 12)...her friend is the daughter of the daycare provider that I've used since B arrived and they are in the same grade...not many children (none really) are as accepting of B's behaviors.

New concerns arise because B will be attending a new school this fall...she'll be attending the middle school where I teach...which will be good overall, but quite a change for her. Starting over with friends is a big concern for her.

Brenda said...


I will pray for you about that. Tough transition.