Orlando — JetBlue Airways and Orlando International airport recently conducted a program to help children with autism familiarize themselves with the process of flying, but without having to actually take off. This is part of the Wings for Autism nation wide program that Autism Daily Newscast has reported in the past.
JetBlue and airport officials organized “Blue Horizons for Autism“, which was held last Wednesday, in an effort to help lessen the anxiety that comes with flying for children with autism.
The program, which was fully booked in less than a day after it was announced, allowed children to undergo the usual process at the airport before an actual flight, including embarking on the plane, listening to safety instructions, and enjoying snacks served in-flight.
The plane’s engine was also kept on the entire time, to help the children take a grasp of what the noise will be like during an actual flight.
According to behavior analyst Jing Zhou, who volunteered for the program:
“It’s very challenging itself for individuals on the autism spectrum. It’s a big change in their routine and it can be unpredictable.”
The program was conceived after one of the staff at JetBlue Airways reported witnessing a family miss their flight when their child, who has autism, was having trouble trying to adjust to the idea of flying.
Federal Security Director for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Orlando International Jerry Henderson assured, however, that the staff at TSA are well capable of handling travelers with special needs. He told:
“Unless you’re the parent of an adult or a parent of a child with special needs, you don’t really quite get it. It’s one of those things where anything we can do to make the process easier, we want to do that.”
Source: Caitlin Dineen Orlando Sentinel JetBlue, Orlando airport host autism travel program