Flying with a disability

23 February 2015

Dear Friend,

We made it! I am laid in my old room, in my old bed at my parents house. My body is still working on Dutch time so I am awake early, with only the darkness and my thoughts for company.

The journey here was fine. Bypassing the luggage check-in meant less time cueing and so we arrived at the gate early. The boys were happy playing on their computers.

Whilst patiently cueing for passport, I watched priority travelers whizzing through their separate section. I kept the boys busy talking and warned the little man that I was indeed his mum. I haven't renewed my passport since I married and it is in a different name to the boys. The last time the passport control officer asked little man who I was he replied by telling him my name (not saying my mummy) Passport officer: No who is this? Little Man: repeated my name loudly. (My husband stood at the side laughing.) When alone I travel with a copy of their birth certificates!

Getting on the plane customers were given priority: disabled and elite members. We waited while people, who should know better, jostled for position with me my 2 kids and 3 bags. (Shame on you!) The whole situation sheds light on my sons invisible disability again. Ok he wasn't freaking out but he was uncomfortable, stressed, repeating the same question, pacing, fidgeting, not enjoying the situation. What would make this better for him?

I don't want to highlight my boys disability. I don't want him to be given a high visibility coat or special card to wear round his neck. He doesn't want to feel any more different. I just want to reduce his stress (and truth be told mine too). How hard would it be to make disability a priority?

Airlines, cinemas, restaurants, public buildings/spaces listen please... Look to the example of theme parks like Disney who are giving passes to their autistic, Down syndrome, special needs customers and making their experiences better, less stressful! Make all disabilities a priority!

Surely we have got our priorities wrong when only those who can afford to buy the best treatment get priority?

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