Travelling can be stressful for children and their parents – but even more so when your child is autistic. The issue is that travelling, especially if it’s something new, such as a first flight on a plane, is a great unknown, and this can induce anxiety among individuals with autism.
This is where we really have to take our hats off to Aer Lingus, who this week have launched a series of downloadable visual guides that walk the viewer through all the steps involved in preparing for and experiencing air travel. Developed in partnership with the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support at Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, the guides are intended to ease anxieties surrounding flying for individuals with autism.
The guides capture the entire air travel experience in colour photographs with first-person language and are divided into three parts: pre-flight, on board, and post-flight. Irish autism charity As I Am Director Adam Harris says: “Airports and airplanes can be stressful environments for everybody but especially for individuals with autism. Any tools which support those with autism in preparing for travel should be warmly welcomed. In order for people with autism to be meaningfully included in society, it is essential that all aspects of the community take steps to ensure accessibility.”
The guides can be accessed by parents and caregivers online here: www.aerlingus.com/travel-information/travelling-with-children/travelling-with-an-asd-child/