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Make Life Easier with These Tips for Running Errands

Want to know how to make life easier for you and your young child with a disability? For tips on managing everyday tasks, such as diapering and bedtime, access the “Making Life Easier” tip sheet series from the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI). These tip sheets for parents and caregivers contain valuable information on how to make challenging events easier to navigate, and even enjoyable, for both you and your child. Learn more about NCPMI’s “Making Life Easier” tip sheets, or contact PACER Center for copies of the tip sheets.

Here is an excerpt* from one of NCPMI’s “Making Life Easier” tip sheets on running errands with your young child with a disability.

Tip: Plan for the Transition from Home to Going Out

Let your child know where you both will be going. This can be done verbally, visually, and/or with sound. Remember to allow time for the transition.

  • Tell your child where you will be going. Some children need a more concrete and visual support of where they are going with you. Many parents have found great success with a travel book. This can be made with a small photo book with blank photo sleeves. To make a travel book, take photos of the places in your community that you frequent. Place each picture in a photo page. Describe where you will be going using the photos.
  • Prepare a cooler with a snack, a drink, and an ice pack.

Tip: Make Your Car a Child-Friendly Place

If your child is busy in the car, both you and he will have a happier experience.

  • Many parents have found it successful to have an activity bin in the car. Fill the activity bin with a few of your child’s favorite things. Some examples might be a couple of books, markers and drawing paper, figurines, or a sticker book.
  • Children’s music CDs: There are many music CDs that have music and lyrics that both you and your child will enjoy. You’ll find some with songs from your child’s favorite television shows and movies.

Tip: Provide Your Child Choices

Use choices to prevent challenging behavior. When you offer your child a choice, you provide him with the opportunity to have control and be independent.

  • If your child has limited communication skills, provide him with a choice board. These are pictured choices from which he can tell you what he wants. They could be photos or clip art. You might have a page in his travel book of song choices, CD choices, or snack/ drink choices.
  • Let your child choose the music to be played.

Tip: Keep Your Child Comfortable

Make sure that your child is not too hot or cold. If he has limited language, he may not be able to tell you that he is uncomfortable (except through challenging behavior). If you can, cool the car off in advance. Have a comfortable object (e.g., blanket) in the car for comfort and warmth.

These simple prevention tips can make getting in the car or on the bus to run errands much easier for your child. Once out of the house, you and your child can take care of these household tasks and have fun during your time together.

*Developed in collaboration with PACER Center. Learn more .