Airports are loud, hectic places. (I’m flying in/out of at least 5 this holiday season myself.) And all the noise, bright lights, and close quarters might be intolerable for people with autism.
So, a program at Philadelphia International Airport is bringing families, airport employees, and airlines together to help autistic kids fly more comfortably. WHYY reports.
A practice run! At the 12th busiest airport in the world.
“We do everything from curb to cabin and back,” says developmental pediatrician Wendy Ross, who started the practice program after a patient had an especially bad experience flying.
The families start by waiting at the check-in counter, where they get their boarding passes.
Then, going through security, no children have to take their shoes off, but all the adults do.
Going down the jet way is sometimes a problem. One participant gets nervous if he can’t see what’s in front of him. In such cases, watching the family struggle was a valuable lesson, one flight says. “Most of all to have patience, and to be aware of the situation.”
When the families settle into their seats, they’re greeted by a United Airlines flight crew. The plane doesn’t actually go anywhere, so families get off after a snack.
Then they gather their belongings, and each kid receives a pin with wings from the airport.
“Literally, we are helping kids fly,” Ross says, “but as a metaphor, travel is so much more than how we get from one place to another, it is how we experience opportunity.”
From WHYY via NPR.
Image by dziner via Flickr