Stay Connected to Loved Ones at Home

 

An over the road driver profession is no different than any other profession when it comes to being affected by special needs family members; however, it is more difficult to handle as a driver than most professions.  Special needs can be a physical, mental health, developmental, emotional special need or aging parents needing more support.   A special need varies from person to person and is as individual as a person’s fingerprints! No two people are the same with their special need and no two families are impacted the same in supporting and working with the special need of a loved one.

 

Being an OTR truck driver presents some challenges for the driver to ensure their bond, connection, and support of their loved ones with special needs.  It is always a good time to set a plan for how you, the driver, can stay connected to your loved one, support them, support the family member that is a full-time caregiver and ensure your own connection with your family.  

 

Find an easy, fun way for you and your loved one to connect.

Find a connection that fits in with your schedules and maybe enhances something you are already doing. Here are several easy, free to inexpensive suggestions: 

  • Send Daily Selfies – This is an easy way to show off your location of the day, make a funny face or maybe to show what restaurant you are having a meal.
  • Collect State Welcome Center Souvenirs – Every state welcome center is different!  Some states give free stickers, postcards, maps, decals or kids travel kits.   Pick one up at each welcome center you stop at for the week or month and deliver a highway travels goody bag to your loved one when you return home.
  • Send Posts Card – Every time you stop at a fuel center to use your GoFuel discount, pick up a postcard in the store and place it in the mail to your loved one if it will be several days before you return home.  Or collect a postcard at each fuel stop of something you have passed or observed on your travels and give the collection of photo postcards to your loved one when you return home.
  • Ride Along Teddy – This is great for a young child or a young at heart special need loved one.   When you are home shop together to find a stuffed teddy bear or stuffed animal to ride along with you in the truck as your co-pilot.  Take a photo of the teddy bear in each location or state you visit and send it to your loved one.
  • Mileage Calculation – Many people with high functioning autism excel with numbers and calculations. If that is your special need loved one, this is a great communication tool between the two of you. Give them your starting odometer reading at the start and end of the day (or week) for them to calculate how many miles you drove. On the day that you are headed home give them the odometer reading and miles to home to let them calculate what your odometer reading should be when you pull into the driveway of the home terminal.
  • Facetime Doctor Appointments or Parent / Teacher Meeting – Schedule your break or lunch to be available via FaceTime or What’s App for your loved ones’ doctor appointment or parent/teacher meeting.  Ask questions, help in the decision making, give input and connect!
  • Home Ride Along – When your home, if your loved one is physically able, take him or her on a short ride along around town!  Drive them to the park, to see the scenery, to the store, to a restaurant like Cracker Barrel giving them the birds-eye view of the road.
  • Short Video Blog – Send a short video blog of where you are, what you are doing for the day highlighting at least 1 positive thing.
  • Sticker Book – Make or buy an album (Dollar Tree) for your loved one to place stickers in.  When you are out driving collect a sticker from each of your trips to provide to your loved one for them to fill up the album.  Most restaurants, stores and welcome centers give a sticker for free.
  • Pin a Map – Print a map of where you will be traveling for the week or month.  Your loved one and caregiver can pin your start location and each location you are at when you communicate with them or pin a map for the year if you travel throughout the country or on a circuit.
  • Classroom Follow Along – If you have a special needs child in school, talk to their teacher!  Most teachers enjoy speaking with truck drivers to follow their trips. They then teach the class about math, the state or city you are in for that day, landmarks, geography, culture, foods, and history of your locations.  You can communicate with the teacher via e-mail, text or social media. As a student, this is another connection to learn about your parent or grandparent every day!

  

These are just a few ways to make connections last with memories for a lifetime.  As every person is different, you need to find the best way for you and your loved one with special needs to connect.  If you start one and it does not work, try a different one, don’t give up! This effort of connection will keep you both going for miles.