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Old 10-05-2008, 07:33 AM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Shan4 HB User
Cool Airplane & Autism

Hi

I have 4 boys. My 2 middle boys have autism. They are 13 & 11. On October 25 we are supposed to be flying down to Orlando, Florida to stay at a rental house and tour DisneyWorld.

It will just be my husband, myself and our 15, 13 & 11 year old boys. Baby is staying with a friend.

I say supposed to fly because I am very worried about the flight. There is such low tolerence now that I am worried we will get kicked off the flight due to a meltdown, or whatever.

Anyone out there who can give me some tips, or some helpful\uplifting\not so bad autism\flying stories would be much appreciated!

BTW, we are flying to the States from Canada. About a 4 hour flight I think. Of course there is all the waiting around the airport. God help us if there is a delay while on the tarmac!

My 13 year old is lower functioning, verbal, but can be moody. My 11 year old is higher functioning but is not at the aspergers level.

Hope to hear from someone soon!

Thanx

Shannon

Last edited by Shan4; 10-05-2008 at 07:39 AM.

 
Old 10-05-2008, 01:32 PM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Posts: 275
skyhighifly HB User
Re: Airplane & Autism

First, I would definitely talk to the airline. Sometimes they have special rooms in the airport you can wait in. Also, they might have inflight suggestions for you.

I would start talking about the trip and the flight now. See if you can get them to role play getting on a plane, takeoff, flight, and landing. Hopefully being more familiar with it will be a help.

Also, put together a package of rewards for both the flight to and from Disney. Have a special reward for them every hour/half hour on the flight. A small toy, a treat to eat. They could even have to earn a certain number of stickers or whatever reward you usually use in order to get the special prize. Try to carryover whatever it is they use at home or school on the trip.

I'm a teacher for the deaf and I had an autistic deaf child in my class one year. We were going on a class field trip with an hour bus ride. We had to get creative to make his rewards work on the trip, but it really paid off. He did wonderfully!

 
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Old 10-06-2008, 12:21 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2007
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DannysMum HB User
Re: Airplane & Autism

Another mother in my sons class who flies with her boy ALWAYS tells the air line, tells them that they will be unable to line up to check in - so don't have to. I'm pretty sure that they managed to get a trip round the flight deck the night before. They made had a pre-visit to the air port to look at it and get used to the idea etc, again I think that this was done inconjunction with the airline.
When we flew we had no problems - only that my son would keep kicking the chair infront! A bit embarressing as we didn't want him to cause a disturbance by us trying too hard to stop him. Next time I would ask to sit at the front - the bulkhead I think it is called- where there aren't any seats to kick.

NB Get a letter from your Doctor to say that they are autistic and cannot stand in line, take it with you to Disneyland City Hall (in Town Square on MainStreet) and you will be issued with a pass which means you by pass the queues. You probably know this - we didn't ...for years. It's made a big difference to our lives, our little boy is Disney mad!

Have a wonderful time!

 
Old 10-07-2008, 10:46 AM   #4
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momofanangel HB User
Re: Airplane & Autism

I agree with talking to the airline before hand...I am also from Canada, and my son will be going (with his school...all of the children in the school have autism) this month on his second trip to the Westjet hanger. Westjet has a program designed for children like ours...they take the kids into the hanger show them EVERYTHING from the tires to the cockpit...they get to sit in the seats and are even served drinks and cookies...all without leaving the ground...but it gives the kids a private interaction with the airplane and really seems to help alot...you could try giving the airline a call and see if they would provide your children with such a program before you leave on your actual trip. I know that visuals really help my son as well...for instance, you could find a children's movie or search the internet (such as youtube) and find some clips of children flying in airplanes and having fun while doing it. My son is really afraid of any closed in spaces and both of these methods has really lowered his anxiety level regarding airplanes! Good luck to you and your family and I hope you have a wonderful holiday together!!!

 
Old 10-08-2008, 07:11 PM   #5
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Join Date: Oct 2008
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Shan4 HB User
Re: Airplane & Autism

I already called the airline! I really wanted to fly with WestJet. However because we booked a package, rental house included, we ended up with SkyService. They don't have many nice things said about them on the internet. I talked to WestJet before we booked and they said they provide an escort through security for people like us. SkyService just said that has nothing to do with them. I did get them to admit that they will allow us to pre-board. I also have the bulkhead seats booked for us. I had to fax info, then I had to be really aggressive in my follow up - but it is done.

I even called the airport and asked if Security can separate me from my kids. I was told "no". I was also told that there is a "priority" line through security if needed.

I am trying to be as prepared as possible but I am still really nervous!

Shannon

 
Old 10-16-2008, 08:02 AM   #6
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deber HB User
Re: Airplane & Autism

What wonderful suggestions. I am a currently self-diagnosed adult Aspie (working on an assessment). A few years ago my husband and I traveled to Disney Land and California Adventure with my ADHD/Aspie grandson and ADHD/Bipolar niece. What an adventure!

We brought along an electronic game for my grandson and he would hyper focus on it. He didn't understand why he couldn't play during take off and landing and would scream when we made him stop playing it. My niece was in an excited state and couldn't stop talking. She bounced up and down in her seat and kicked the person in front of her. I get into sensory overload easily and don't like enclosed spaces so the flight was a trial for all of us. It was very hard to get my grandson to stand in line and board the plane. I had to physically carry him and he kicked and screamed. I wish I had known to ask for a walk-through before our actual flight.

My grandson and I wore very soft earplugs virtually everywhere - at the crowded airport, in the bathroom with loud self-flushing toilets, on the plane, in the lines waiting for rides, noisy restaurants, and on the rides themselves. The ear plugs are called Earplanes and are very comfortable and adjust to air pressure. They are the most comfortable ear plugs I have ever worn and I've tried a lot of brands. I bought several pairs because my grandson kept pulling his out and throwing them on the ground but with regular washings, I can get a pair to last over a year. When we got home I figured out a way to attach a cord to his ear plugs and now a pair lasts quite a while.

The waiting in line for the rides was hard on all of us. It wasn't unusual to wait 45 minutes. Thank you to the poster who explained how to get a special pass to bypass the lines. If we ever go again, we will get that pass.

Pick the rides carefully. I have spatial awareness issues so some rides caused me extreme anxiety and sometimes painful sensations. Both my grandson and I go into sensory overload. The music was really loud on the rides themselves. Both my grandson and I had a couple of melt-downs on rides that combined loud sound effects and music, fast motion and strobe lights. I lost one of my earplugs during a ride and melted down. At the end of one exhausting day we went on a ride that was similar to walking through a science museum but the floors moved. I got separated from my family and panicked. I was finally let out via an employee exit and the motion from the ride made me so upset that I couldn't figure out how to get through a turn style and ended up climbing over a fence into the area behind the ride. The employees must have thought I was totally crazy. I was talking loudly to myself moaning and rocking. It took quite a while for my family to find me.

My grandson would break away from my grip and start running through the crowd. Since this is a long-standing issue, I had given him a walkie-talkie to help locate him. I didn't want to risk him losing a cell phone. He loves using the radio and if within range would respond to my calling him but the reception was spotty. After a very frightening first day of losing him several times, my solution was to plan out an itinerary with my husband for the next day and meet at designated places when we got separated. I would call out the location and let my grandson lead me. He easily memorized the map of the grounds and we went on some wild races through the park with me hanging onto his hand as he pulled me sideways between the crowds of people but he was ecstatic as long as he was in control. My husband and niece kept up as much as possible.

We made the mistake of spending too many hours a day in the park. Melt-downs at night were common. Getting up and going in the morning was a challenge but my grandson and niece loved the mornings with early admission when they could race up the tunnels and board a ride immediately. During early admission they would ride the same ride multiple times within a short period of time.

Another problem we had: my grandson and I have food allergies and it was almost impossible to find food stands or restaurants (in Disney Land and California Adventure) that met our standards for non-gluten, non-dairy & casein, no corn, or corn syrup, no additives, colors, etc. The food on the grounds was expensive and we ended up buying meals and throwing away all but the portion that we could tolerate. Since our trip I have found a web site that lists the menus and it would have been helpful for me to have had this information before our trip.

 
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