Recently, Ryan and I had plans to fly to Chicago for my nephew’s wedding. I was concerned because Ryan had not flown in 15 years. How would he do? The long security lines, loud noises, tight spaces, and of course, the inability to leave on time… all of this had me worried, to say the least. Fortunately, he did great! He watched out the window the entire time we were in the air. However, I know air travel is problematic for many families.
I recently came across an article regarding how airports are making travel easier for autistic passengers. Sensory rooms and the ability to get on the plane last are great additions to airports and their practices. I learned that the ARC, an international group representing people with intellectual disabilities, have been working with airports around the globe to make air travel easier for these individuals. Chicago, Atlanta, Shannon, Vancouver, and LaGuardia are just a few of the airports that now offer these opportunities. At the Atlanta airport, Delta even has mock flights so passengers may simulate the experience to help them prepare. There is even an event called “Wings for Autism,” which works with airports, airlines, and transportation security administration to allow planes to taxi with participants with special needs on-board. Why is this important? Being prepared and familiar with the setting is key for individuals with special needs to having an easier travel experience.
I’d encourage you to investigate if there is a “Wings for Autism” chapter in your community and/or work with your local ARC chapter to help ease air travel. I’m going to write to our local airport municipal authority, as well as the airlines that service Erie, to see what we can do to bring these same services to our community. Why don’t you do the same?
PS – now that I know Ryan can fly, who knows what our next destination might be!!