The hassles of airport security and crowds can be sensory overload for anyone, so for children on the autism spectrum, travel logistics can pose a variety of problems. While many parents may choose to avoid inevitable disturbances of extensive travel, some have begun to advocate for travel as a crucial educational tool enabling autistic children to learn through all of their senses. One such advocate was featured in the Chicago Tribune this week for her outreach to the autistic community. Margalit Sturm Francus, whose son is on the autism spectrum, runs the website autisticglobetrotting.com where she provides travel resources for parents and maintains a blog of successes and hardships with her son. Francus tells the Chicago Tribune of various conflicts her family has encountered, ranging from airport smells to broken in-flight entertainment. She suggests that parents be honest with airport security and flight attendants and come prepared for “dysregulation” like Francus’ son experienced with the surprise of broken in-flight entertainment. Now, when traveling, Francus brings two IPads just in case. Still, preparing for interruptions in a child’s routine implies that travel is routine. For Francus and her family, who have traveled to roughly 70 countries together, travel procedures have become normal and subsequently are less potentially upsetting. However, most families cannot maintain regular travel, so airlines and airports have begun accommodating ASD. Many airlines now allow and encourage early boarding for families of children with ASD. Some airports, in conjunction with TSA and airlines like Jet Blue, hold practice events that create the experience of airport security and boarding for autistic children.
For TSA travel resources for Autism or Intellectual Disabilities, visit here.
To check out Jet Blue’s aid for autism, visit ‘Blue Tales’ here.
To read Francus’ featured article, visit the Chicago Tribune here.
For travel tips and resources for families of children with ASD, visit Francus’ site http://www.autisticglobetrotting.com/.
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