Great news for Autistic flyers

8 April 2016

Dear friends,

Have you ever flown with children. It is stressful isn't it. Airports are busy places, crammed full of people. Trying to keep an eye on cases, kids, passports and find where you need to go is a nightmare. Let's add another factor into this equation. You also have autism. But there is great news for some Autistic Flyers...

Airports for people on the autistic spectrum can be an absolute nightmare, the senses going into overload. I don't know whether it is the noise, the light all the people standing too close or all of that put together that makes the experience a challenge for my son. But as a mum I desperately want to make this situation easier for him. We are regular travellers as my family are in the UK and we live in Holland. My kids have been on planes since they were 3 months old.

Last February we flew to the UK and my experience prompted me to write 2 posts about flying. The first one a rant about having to pay to check in luggage and in the second piece, I discussed how we need to give disability priority.

Whilst patiently cueing for passport control, I watched priority travelers whizzing through their separate section...
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?

...How hard would it be to make disability a priority?

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

I am really pleased to see that one airport has started to address this problem for autistic people. Newcastle airport has signed up for the Autism Charter and has trained staff to support their customers with Autism.  How brilliant is that???  

The article in the Chronicle states that Newcastle airport;  
...will soon produce an ‘Airport Autism Passport’ which passengers can download to ensure a ‘fast track’ service to speed them through queues. Crowded areas can be particularly distressing for people with the condition. 

You can't see but I am doing my happy dance right now. At last some understanding and action. I am getting one of those passports for the big lad as soon as they are available. 

Newcastle Airport are also working with the North East Autism Society to produce a social story so that autistic passengers can familiarise themselves with the terminal before travelling.  What a brilliant idea!

All we need now are for other major airports to follow suit.  

Thank you to my best friend for sending this article, you made my day!!! 

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