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Flying to see Janet – Part 1.

Flying to See JanetSocial stories are used very frequently as a means of assisting autistic learners. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a good social story to help kids on the spectrum when it comes to airports and flying ? Just possibly, wouldn’t it open up a whole new world to them ?

The great news is that this does exist. This is, precisely, the nature of the book Flying to see Janet – written by Laura Vickers and illustrated by Peggy Wargelin. They cover the whole experience from packing to bag claim (via turbulence and on-board bathrooms) and put lots of emphasis on coping with sensory issues. The whole thing is beautifully written and superbly illustrated.

Hold that thought. Couldn’t the book be even more useful if it had plenty of practical suggestions for parents ? Wouldn’t you know it ? It has that too. I was impressed by this section. It covers almost everything and the tips are clear and easily followed.

I liked the suggestions so much that I contacted the publisher and gained permission to reproduce them on this blog. The publishers, Jessica Kingsley Publishing, have also provided me with a link to their site so that readers of this blog can order the book directly from them and receive a 20% discount. In order to receive the discount, use the Promo Code: TRAVEL. This offer is valid until the end of June 2013. The link is at the end of this post.

Here are the first two sections of “Suggestions for parents” from Flying to see Janet. The remaining 3 sections will be posted soon.



Try to visit the airports ahead of time, or have someone else do so:

  • How will you get there ? If in a car, where will you park ? If with a friend, in a taxi, public transport, etc., what will that be like and where will you be dropped off ?
  • Can you find a map of the airport ? Which terminal(s) does your airline fly from and are there any neat spaces your child might like ? Boston airport has spots with kinetic sculptures that Janet finds fascinating. Detroit airport has a tunnel between terminals with a rainbow light show and relaxing music that you watch as you ride along the moving walkways. Many airports have fountains. A calming , quiet place with something interesting to see may be worth some extra time at the airport to visit.
  • What food is available in that terminal ? Different terminals may have different restaurants. Which, if any, chain restaurants are there that you could try away from the airport beforehand to find something your child likes to eat ?
  • How do you get around in the airport ? Most have moving sidewalks, elevators and escalators, but some have buses and monorail/subway trains. This may be a challenge or entertainment, depending on your child.
  • Bring two adults, if you can, for as much of the trip as possible. One can attend to the child and the other can:
    • Scout for paces to sit, eat, etc.
    • Handle paperwork at check in, security, boarding, and baggage claim
    • Clean things before the child gets there.




  • Avoid wearing anything that will trip the detectors. Women, do NOT wear an underwire bra. Once you’ve made it through the scanner, you aren’t allowed to come back. I was stopped at a scanner, and was then required to go to a second, different one. Because I had sent my child through first, she couldn’t come back to me, even though I had to go to the other scanner !
  • The United States Transport Security Administration (www.tsa.gov) has a page devoted to traveling with children with disabilities.  It has a comforting statement that “at no time during the screening process will you be separated from your child” but as demonstrated by the “underwire scenario” above, things may differ in practice. Knowing what is supposed to happen may help if something comes up on your trip.
  • If you have two adults, send one through with all the bags. When you can see the first is ready, send the child through, and then the second adult goes through.
  • Be sure to read and understand the regulations for what is allowed in carry-on luggage in your area and for your flight ahead of time. Completely empty water bottles and water-filled toys before going through security, and refill them afterwards.
  • There are exceptions to the security rules for medications, infant formula, or anything medically necessary, but you must present each item separately to security personnel. For Janet’s nut allergy, we carry an Epipen® with full prescription label on it, and a note from her pediatrician stating that it is medically necessary for her to have it with her. You can probably get a therapeutic item through security with a doctor’s not stating that it is medically necessary. We once had Play-Doh® confiscated because it looked like plastic explosives, but we had no note.



Here is the link. Don’t forget that the Promo Code is : TRAVEL

Reprinted by permission of Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2012, Laura Vickers, Illustrated by Peggy Wargelin, Flying to See Janet: A Fun Guide to the Airport Experience, ISBN: 978-1-84905-913-8,Click Here



  1. Thank you so much for this article and the book! Noticed it today via our LinkedIn connection,understanding Special Needs–Douglas Baker mentioned your work. Couldn’t have come at a better time as I’m accompanying 2 boys on their trip to their dad in June. Ordering now!

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