Advertisement

Wings for Autism


Children with autism often struggle doing new and unfamiliar things, so families who have a child on the spectrum sometimes avoid situations that they think will be particularly overwhelming. Traveling can always be difficult since it takes kids out of their usual routine and environment, but air travel can be particularly uncomfortable for a kid on the spectrum since there is limited flexibility and lots of unfamiliar rules, bright lights, loud noises, and people. My family has always hesitated to book a trip that would require us to take our five year old, who has autism, on a plane. We worried about whether or not he would get overwhelmed and have a meltdown in the airport or even worse, mid-flight. We’d heard stories about other families who had attempted to fly and had to bail on their plans at the last minute after trying to navigate the airport unsuccessfully. Luckily, a national program called “Wings for Autism” has emerged to help families prepare their children for air travel before they book an actual trip. The program is facilitated by The Arc in partnership with airports across the country and allows families to “rehearse” navigating the airport and riding on a plane.

The Baton Rouge Wings for Autism event was held on Saturday April 8th at Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport. My family woke up early that morning, grabbed our “luggage”- a small bag that our son could carry, and headed for the airport. When we arrived, we parked in the garage and entered the ticketing area, trying to contain our son’s excitement and anxiety about being somewhere unfamiliar. After waiting for a few moments at ticketing, while our son squirmed, we got our “boarding passes” and headed towards security. We all had to take off our shoes, a task that can be challenging for kids on the spectrum due to sensory issues, and placed our treasured belongings on the conveyor belt to be inspected by TSA. After we made it through the metal detectors and gathered our things, we headed for the gate. Waiting in a busy terminal is another task that can be particularly overwhelming, so we were glad to see the plane arrive after a few minutes. We boarded the plane, buckled up, stowed our luggage, and listened to all of the usual announcements from the flight attendant and pilots. Once everyone was safely seated, the plane taxied to the runway. The overwhelming sound and vibrations from the loud engines, the strange lights, the noise of so many other people talking, and the requirement to stay seated and buckled can all be difficult for a child on the spectrum to deal with, but after taxiing for about ten minutes, we returned to the gate uneventfully and deplaned.

For the past five years we have avoided booking a trip that would require our son to fly because we just weren’t sure how it would go. After two years of attending “Wings for Autism” here in Baton Rouge, I am more confident that our son would do well if we decided to take a flight anywhere. Giving parents that peace of mind and kids with autism the chance to get familiar with what it might be like to fly, is a wonderful gift that opens up new opportunities for so many families. Many thanks to The Arc, Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, and American Airlines for facilitating the event. We look forward to going back to the airport soon for our son’s first flight. To learn more about Wings for Autism, visit http://www.thearc.org/wingsforautism.

Be the first to review this item!


Bookmark this

10 Apr 2017


By Mandy Cowley

Recent Articles

The Pain of Our Children

in Health and Wellness, Family Life, Nicole Green

We do everything in our parental power to protect our children. Desperately wanting to prevent pain. Yet, pain is inevitable. All of my children have been hurt not only by the world but by people they love, including me.

The Art of Thrifting

in Things To Do

How to shop without breaking the bank.

Making Your Own Dreams and Goals a Priority

in Family Life, Mandy Cowley

After a few soul sucking years of saying “maybe one day” and getting through the toddler years, I couldn’t pretend that I didn’t have these dreams anymore. I went back to the drawing board to figure out how to make my own goals & dreams a priority.

Fall Goodies!

in Kirsten Raby, Crafts and Cooking

I’m going to give you two things I just love to eat in the fall that you can bring to your people to enjoy…you can even tell them you came up with it all on your own!

Featured Listings more listings

Christ Presbyterian School

in Private Schools

The purpose of Christ Presbyterian School is to help Christian parents provide a Christian and Classical Education for their covenant children in the heritage of orthodox, catholic Christianity and the Reformed Faith.

7 elements Fine Arts Summer Academy

in Day Camps

Students who understand that their school subjects and art need each other tend to comprehend and retain information better. They become better problem solvers and contributors to society.

Advertisement
Newsletter