Transportation

Program Works To Improve The Airport Experience For Autistic Children

Recent news reports have focused on the negative aspects of air travel. But there’s a group that wants to make the experience more positive for everyone, especially some of the airlines’ more vulnerable passengers.

A big airport can be a stressful place even for the most seasoned traveler. For an autistic child it can really be tough.

But at Bush Intercontinental they’re hoping to make it a fun experience. The airport is one of several around the country hosting “Wings for All,” an event designed for children with sensory challenges. The kids experience the ticket counter and the security checkpoint. They then get to check out the inside of a plane.

Ana Martinez with the advocacy group The ARC of Texas says the event helps families improve their travel experience.

“Being able to do some sort of dress rehearsal if you will, makes them more familiar with the process,” says Martinez.

And parents like Carmen Lemus say it’s important to know what their child can handle. Her 8-year-old son Adam is autistic and non-verbal. But he loves to ride in the car and Lemus wants to know if he’d also enjoy flying.

“If they can’t handle it we don’t have to travel that way,” says Lemus. “But if they are able to handle it then it gives us more opportunity to travel to visit relatives, maybe go on more vacations.”   

Airport officials say the event isn’t just for kids. It also helps security agents and airport staff understand the needs of autistic passengers.

The ARC of Texas says another Wings for All event will be held this fall.

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Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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