Saturday, April 20, 2013

Flying with autism: Airport program helps affected children

Air travel can be stressful for even the most experienced road warriors. But it can be much tougher for families with a child on the autism spectrum who becomes unnerved by the lines and security procedures at the airport and the tight quarters and strange noises on an airplane.

For the Littlejohn family it was dreadful. In 2010, they had plane tickets to fly from Boston to Orlando for a vacation at Walt Disney World. "My son Henry, then 6, has autism but had traveled well before. This time he was very anxious on the way to the airport. And by the time we got on the plane he was melting down; kicking and screaming," said Susie Littlejohn. Before the plane could take off, they had to make a decision: Her husband ended up going on to Orlando with their older son, Jack; Henry and his mom got off the plane and went home. 

Littlejohn thought the air travel process might go more smoothly if children like Henry had a way to practice going to and through the airport and getting onto the airplane. She mentioned that idea to Jennifer Robtoy, the director of Autism Services at the Charles River Center in Needham, Mass., and Robtoy got in touch with Massport, which operates Boston Logan airport, to see if something could be worked out.

Read the story at USAToday.com

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