We know new places and new experiences can be challenging. Follow these tips to have a more successful time flying with Autism.
Do a trial run of it: Call your airport and ask if there is an autism access program in place; some families also practice going through airport security. Washington Dulles, Boston Logan, Philadelphia International, and Atlanta are among a growing number of airports that offer parents and autistic kids deeper familiarization experiences such as mock boarding.
Advise Everyone Involved: Let your airline know as far in advance as possible that you’ll be flying with a child with autism; they will often provide you with bulkhead seats. Three days before your trip, call the Transportation Security Administration’s hotline, TSA Cares (855-787-2227; Open Weekdays: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET Weekends/Holidays: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET). TSA Cares can act as an intermediary with airport customer care and help you navigate security checkpoints.
Plan meals and snacks: Ask if meals are served (depends on length of flight (Request meal options i.e. celiac menu, or purchase meals that your child has chosen at the airport).
Ask for priority boarding. Notify your airline in advance that you’d like to pre-board and, just to be safe, arrive at the departure gate early and make your request again. Boarding early will give you the chance to get your child settled and comfortable before the stream of passengers begins.
Pack essentials. Carry documentation of your child’s diagnosis, in case airport or airline staff request it. Pack any item that might be soothing to your child during a rough patch. If your child is sensitive to loud sounds, bring noise-cancelling headphones. Consider multiple ways for your child to stay occupied during the flight, and come armed with extra books, toys, DVDs, and electronic charging accessories. Pack a change of clothes in case of spills.
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