Family Vacations for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Tips for Parents

By John Lehman

Planning a vacation is an exciting but sometimes difficult task for any family, particularly families who have children with cerebral palsy. Special considerations must be taken into account well before the plane tickets are purchased. Fortunately, the task is not impossible. With a little bit of research, homework and proper planning, you can rest easy knowing your cerebral palsy child will have a fun and relaxing experience during your family’s vacation.

How to Prepare

There are many things you should keep in mind when deciding on a destination for your family vacation. Perhaps the most important step you can take when planning your vacation is to call your destination in advance and make sure they can accommodate your child. This includes potential hotels, restaurants or any attractions you are considering.

For example, will your hotel have adequate wheelchair accessibility? What about allergy risks? Are there hospitals nearby in the event of an emergency? All of these questions should be answered by calling your hotels or destinations ahead of time, well before you book your rooms. If the accommodations aren’t satisfactory, you’ll want to consider a different location.

Being in a new place may be disorienting for your child. You’ll want to be prepared in the event that your child panics or becomes upset. Some families combat this by trying to stay true to routines that their child is used to. If your child takes a nap in the afternoons, make sure you set aside time to allow him or her to do so. Of course, if your child is taking special medications, you’ll want to bring these along and have them take the medications at the appropriate time. Make sure you bring extra pills or dosages, just in case.

Where to Go

In today’s world, vacation destinations have proven to be much more accommodating towards special needs families than in decades past.

Some destinations are specifically designed with special needs families in mind. One such location is Morgan’s Wonderland, located in San Antonio, Texas. This amusement park’s mission is to provide an environment where all children can have fun together, regardless of their disability (or lack thereof). Activities include fishing, carousels, playing musical instruments, watching shows performed hourly and taking part in more traditional park activities, such as swing sets, sandboxes and slides. All of these activities are fully accessible for both children and adults with a variety of conditions.

Resort vacations aren’t out of the question, either. Some families with special needs have enjoyed visiting the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah. The center has many different active and outdoor activities for you and your family to enjoy year-round, such as horseback riding, hiking, skiing, swimming and more. The center prides itself at offering these activities to children of all ages and ability levels, with the hopes of improving self-esteem, confidence and physical strength in the process.

Even famous resorts, such as Disney World, are renowned by special needs families for their excellent accommodations. Lodging at one of Disney’s many resorts are fully equipped for children or families with special needs, including text-to-speech devices, detachable showerheads and safety bars. Many of their biggest attractions have accommodations for special needs families as well.

Was Your Child's CP Preventable?