The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in 88 children are on the autism spectrum. Because of this staggering statistic, there has been a major push to provide awareness throughout the community. In response to this growing awareness, the travel industry is taking note.
Traveling with an autistic child can be overwhelming to both child and parent. In order to ease the stress of traveling, certain airports in the country are providing “mock boarding” experiences. This free program offers a trial run of what it is like to buy tickets, go through security, and buckling up on a plane that never takes off. Washington Dulles International Airport as well as Atlanta, Boston, Bridgeport, Manchester, Philadelphia, and Newark have offered this special program.
TSA also provides a hotline – TSA Cares (1-855) 787-2227. Call 72 hours before your flight to let them know that you are in need of assistance. Try requesting use of the handicap line. Also, alert your airline. Keep in mind that not everyone will be compassionate to your situation. While awareness is growing, there are still many who do not understand. Do you best to be prepared, but realize there is only so much you can control.
For more information and travel tips, I recommend reading The New York Times Article – Testing Autism and Air Travel. You may also be interested in my soon-to-be-released book,
“Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome,” click here to download a sample chapter.