Flying with your ASD child. Part 1 – Preparation.

HeadphonesIn our last post, we dealt with planning a flight when you have a family member on the autism spectrum. This is the first in a series which will deal with preparing for and taking the flight.

If a mock flight/practice boarding program is available at your airport, do take the opportunity and try this. It will help you when it comes to the “real thing”.

The original such program was Wings or Autism. The Arc of USA is rolling it out nationally. Look for it at your local airport or via your local Arc affiliate. If you can’t find one, contact us. We’ll see if we can locate one for you.

If such a program is not available at your airport, try to arrange your own “dry run” to the airport. This will give you some familiarity with the route there and with the terminal, at least on the ground-side of security.

If visual stories help your child with other activities, prepare a visual story for your trip. You can contact the airport authority and/or your airline’s community relations department and request photographs. Your child’s special education teacher, therapist or other professional support may be able to assist you when putting this together.

Practice all of the possible techniques for dealing with pressure change that are not already familiar to your child. You won’t know, until you are in the air, which ones are going to work so you need your child to be familiar with all of them. (See “During the Flight” section for more details).

If your child is very sensitive to noise, you probably already have noise-cancelling headphones. If your child has less sensitivity but has occasional trouble with noise, try some so that you can be sure they will be tolerated.

Where possible, visit you airport’s website and download a map of the layout. This should enable you to look in advance for things like food and beverage outlets, shops and possible play areas. Look also for details of your destination airport. For arrival, it will help you to know about ground transportation and for your return journey; you’ll want all of the same information as you did for the flight there.

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