My wife and I have a special needs child named Maggi. She is so full of personality and heart, but she can’t walk, talk or crawl. We have to pick her up, carry her, and push her in her different mobility devices. We have to anticipate what she wants and needs sometimes, and decipher her signs at others. She tries so hard, and we do all we can to make her life easier.
When prepping and making bug-out bags and emergency kits, we have to make sure we account for her needs as well as the normal stuff we’d be doing. Learning how to be prepared with a special needs child isn’t always easy, but it’s always necessary.
Prepping With Special Needs
To be quite honest, lots of people today have “special needs”, just on different levels. Some are diabetic and need insulin, some need a gluten-free diet, some are totally invalid and cannot care for themselves at all. The differing levels of needs are what should be prepared for in each situation.
When thinking of a bug-out bag for your little one, make sure you take into consideration all of their needs — you may need more than one bag for them.
Since Maggi can’t walk, she has a “Kid Kart” — it’s kind of like a big stroller, but much more sturdy. While it is more to deal with, it actually makes things a little easier at times. We can pack multiple bags and hang them from different places on her Kart. It also breaks down so it can fit into the trunk of a car or the back of a van without taking up all the room. It’s also very lightweight for its size and strength.
We usually pack one bag with diapering essentials (diapers, wipes, Vaseline, etc), a second with a couple of changes of clothes, and a third with snacks, bottled water, extra pacifiers and basic meds (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc). All three of these can be attached directly to her Kart for easier mobility. Also, don’t forget the hand sanitizer! Anybody worth their salt that knows how to be prepared with a special needs child knows hand sanitizer is a must!
If it’s cold outside, you’ll need extra blankets, head covering (toque, boggin, sock hat, ski cap… whatever you want to call it) and gloves or mittens. On the other hand, if it’s hot outside, how do you keep your child cooler? Our little one can’t sweat very easily, and she overheats extremely quickly when exposed to temperatures over about 70º for long periods of time, so we found her a portable battery-operated fan that we keep with her at all times. Even in the winter time, those fans get used — have you been into a doctor’s office in winter? They have the heat set on “broil”!
Equipment for Your Special Needs Child
Maybe your child has special equipment they need on occasion. If they’re portable and battery-operated, it’s best to ALWAYS have the batteries charged. Maggi has a suction machine that we carry everywhere with us. If she happens to vomit, she can’t always get it up on her own, so we have to help her. We keep the machine clean at all times and the batteries charged once a month to be safe. What good will it be if we take it with us on the road and the batteries are dead? On the off handed chance that the battery goes dead, we have a power inverter that we use in the van, but we’re also going to be adding a solar generator kit soon, as well.
We also have to think about a way to keep her entertained. Sometimes we pack the portable DVD player and her favorite Dora the Explorer DVDs. They will keep her calm most of the time. If we’re going somewhere that requires less noise, we have to think about other ways to keep her entertained. Usually her snacks will keep her calm, though… and she always has to have one of her babies with her. (Lately, her favorite baby has been a Little Mommy Real Loving Baby Walk & Giggle Doll. Maggi will absolutely not go anywhere without her!)
My wife and I used to go through a lot the night before we went somewhere (doctor’s appointment, surgery, etc) to make sure we had everything together. We would make a list, pack everything up, pile it all in one place and hope we had not forgotten anything. Now, we have everything pre-packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. All we have to do is grab it and go.
The Key to Prepping with a Special Needs Child
Whether you are caring for a special needs child or an adult with special needs, or even just an elderly relative, your level of preparedness has to match the severity of the person’s needs. Just as with any emergency situation, you have to remain calm, but you also may have to keep others calm, too.