This past weekend JetBlue Airways hosted an air travel practice session for families with autistic children at Kennedy International Airport. A first for JFK, this event was attended by around 300 people—autistic children and their parents—all a mix of excitement and nerves about testing out this experience of flying.
JetBlue has seen an increasing number of autistic customers, and wanted to teach their employees to help make people with autism more comfortable while traveling.
The plane departed the gate and taxied around the tarmac for twenty minutes. JetBlue workers volunteered their time and the airline took care of the cost of using the plane.
Parents at the event commented how grateful they were to have this opportunity with their children, who ranged on the autistic spectrum from mild to severe. Many explained how glad they were to get the experience in a practice situation because they therefore were able to get an idea of what airplane travel would be like with their autistic children, how they would react during the real thing.
“This was just great. We are so grateful, but in reality it is not going to be this easy,” said Cathy Russo of Brooklyn, who took advantage of this practice in traveling with her six-year old autistic son.
Many others noted this problem as well: people were so kind during this practice run, and autistic children wouldn’t find this much support during a normal trip.
Still, the overall feeling surrounding the event was how beneficial it was for both autistic children and their families.
Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/children-autism-practice-travel-nys-jfk-20330750