DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the It’s Cool To Fly American program returns to help hundreds of families with children with autism gain real-life airport and airplane experiences.
According to the CDC, about one in 44 children in the United States will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Certain things, like traveling, can be hard for them to take.
“My daughter has ADHD so you have to be respectful and calm on a plane and my biggest concern is that she has a lot of energy so I’m worried she will be running up and down the aisles,” said Janet Diorio. Their 8 year old daughter Caroline is on the autism spectrum and Janet wanted to see how she would behave on a plane trip.
“We just wanted to give my daughter a kind of dry run, and this is a great program to see how she’s going to react when … the time comes to fly,” Janet said.
American Airlines’ program offers parents and their children a simulated travel experience, including check-in, going through security, waiting at the gate and boarding.
The hustle and bustle of a crowded airport can be a lot for these kids, so this real-life scenario helps parents gauge how their kids are reacting.
Jim Moses, DFW Hub Vice President for American Airlines said: “[It’s important], for families with special needs, to make it as real as possible… without actually taking off. I think now that travel demand has really started to pick up and people are really looking forward to traveling again, that’s even more important.”
Now comes the real test; get on an airplane, go through the movements, and finally the airplane moves. It rolls for about half an hour, accelerating and decelerating.
Mansfield’s mother Mayra Cabrela said: “So far they’ve done great, everyone has been so nice and helpful and it’s just been a great experience for us.”
While some children were restless, the majority seemed to be doing really well with the mock flight.
This opportunity is only available once a year at nine airports across the country.
https://dfw.cbslocal.com/2022/04/02/dfw-airport-program-helps-children-with-autism-get-real-life-travel-experience/ American Airlines Program Helps Children With Autism Have Real Airplane Experience – CBS Dallas/Fort Worth