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Travel with a special needs 5 year old

Hi everyone,
I'm headed to Scotland in May 2018 (3 nights in Edinburgh, 3 nights in Fort augustus and 1 night outside of Glasgow for the flight home) with my husband, in-laws and our 5 year old son. He has a genetic condition - he cannot talk but can walk relatively well. I have already gotten a super compact stroller that actually fits in a large purse since I know some places (Holyrood) doesn't allow strollers. Are there any places we should avoid or places that would be interesting to him? With him and my 75 year old in-laws we will be taking it slow. We land at 930am and can't check in until after 4pm so I was thinking about taking him to the zoo and national museum (he can nap in the stroller if necessary). I have been to Europe several times but a first with my son. Any advice would be appreciated.

Posted by
1050 posts

unrelated comment: Why 3 days (= 4 nights?) in Fort Augustus?

I have been in Fort Augustus a couple of times and like it very much, but two small museums and a boat trip on Loch Ness is all the entertainment I can recall. We spent a lot of time watching boats going through the locks, but I doubt that will interest your son.

There's a lot more to see in Fort Williams or Oban.

Posted by
101 posts

I do belong to a few Facebook groups for my son. I will ask if anyone is from the Scotland area.

As for Fort Augustus- my father in law saw the Abbey where we are staying and wanted to stay an extra day so he and my husband could do some fishing. My original plan was to get up there around 4pm or so, spend the night, go fishing and exploring the next day, then a day trip up to Inverness and Culloden on our final day. The next day we would drive down towards Glasgow and seeing Stirling Castle on our way down.

Posted by
7 posts

Hi! I recently visited Edinburgh with my family and found it to be a lot easier to manage than I anticipated. My brother has CP and cannot walk or talk. Although the streets are mostly cobblestone in Edinburgh, it was very easy to get around the city with his wheelchair/ stroller. Although it is an old city, the city's museums and hotels have elevators and public restrooms. I don't recall the Castle having an elevator, but the restrooms, ticket booth, and cafes were all very easy to access. The interior of the castle does have stairs, so just take your time if you intend to explore. We never felt out of place or like we were a burden to anyone, even though we were a party of 7, including a disabled child. The staff at the hotels and restaurants in Edinburgh are extremely friendly and accommodating, so if you need anything specific for your son or in-laws, just ask.
Not sure how you're planning to get around, but many streets in Edinburgh are steep and often are connected by alley staircases (called a "close") which may be difficult for your parents. Just take it slow if you're walking. If you're taking the train, there is an elevator at the Edinburgh train station, on the side opposite from the Royal Mile. We took a taxi to the Edinburgh airport (they are SO spacious) but you can also use the rail system to get there.
I visited Fort Augustus on a day trip to the Highlands with just my sister, but although my brother did not go with us, the streets were flat and easy to get around. This town is so quaint and quiet and lovely to be in. There are wonderful restaurants on the water and you can take a boat tour on Loch Ness if that interests you.
Hopefully this was a bit helpful, but feel free to ask me any other questions about special needs/ disability in Edinburgh

Posted by
645 posts

I am also planning a trip to Scotland for July 2018. I will be taking my 24 year old special needs daughter with me. She loves to travel and meet people. While she does not have physical limitations she is intellectually impaired and requires us to be vigilant as she could get lost quite easily. We have family in England and so we travel back and forth frequently. I have never had any issues traveling with her. Everyone we have met from the plane ride over to hotel staff and people in restaurants have always been very nice. My daughter has Williams Syndrome which is quite rare. But it really is a small world. My sister who lives in England moved into a new home several years ago. The plumber came to the house and mentioned that he knew her new neighbors and they had a teenage girl with a disability. He said to my sister, "well you have probably never heard of it, but she has Williams Syndrome." My sister, responded, well I have a niece in America with the same disability! For several years, my daughter would met up with her new friend when we visited England. My sister has since moved and the young lady moved into an assisted living arrangement and we lost touch. I know this was slightly off topic - but wanted to share. Enjoy you trip to Scotland.