For families with children suffering from autism, even the most simple of daily tasks can be stressful as small disruptions of routine can trigger dramatic emotional outbursts. When an autistic child is forced to go through an already stressful experience like air travel, the results can be even more traumatic. Families are often removed from planes before takeoff, or thrown out of security lines because of seemingly uncontrollable behavior from autistic children.
This reality has prompted several airports across the country to initiate a program known as “Mock Boarding” which simulates the ticketing, security, and boarding process for autistic children. The theory behind this is that autistic children often thrive in environments that are familiar, and if families have the opportunity to practice the air travel experience several times over a period of weeks before actual flights, then they are more likely to make it through the experience with less stress.
The following cities have airports currently involved in the program:
Manchester, New Hampshire
Thus far only Jet Blue, AirTran, Continental, Frontier, Southwest and United Airlines have participated.
This program is reminiscent of the Unified Pilgrim Project, which seeks to bridge that gap of special needs students and regular education students through sport. This program has been successful in creating an atmosphere of inclusion while also educating teachers and students as to the realities of life for special needs students. If you have not been to a Unified game it is an experience like none other. Currently the Unified Volley Ball season is coming to an end, however basketball is just around the corner and I encourage all of you to go to at least one game… you will be reminded of how truly amazing students at Pilgrim High School are, while also displaying the remarkable force of good which sports can play in our lives.
For more information on Autism please visit Autism Speaks at: