DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the program “It’s great to fly American” is back to help hundreds of families with children with autism experience real airplanes and airports.
According to the CDC, about one in 44 children in the US is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Some things, such as travelling, can be difficult for them.
Janet Diorio said: ‘My daughter has ADHD, so when you’re on a plane you have to be respectful, calm and my biggest concern is she has a lot of energy, so I was worried. that she would run up and down the aisles. Her 8-year-old daughter, Caroline, is autistic and Janet wanted to see how she would act on a plane.
“We just wanted to give my daughter a test run, and it was a great show to see how she would react when… time ran out,” says Janet.
The American Airlines program offers parents and their children an enjoyable travel experience that includes check-in, security, waiting at the gate, and boarding.
The hustle and bustle of a crowded airport can be overwhelming for these kids, so this real-life scenario helps parents gauge how their child will react.
Jim Moses, Vice President of DFW Hub for American Airlines, said, “[It’s important], for families with special needs, make it as real as possible… without really taking off. I believe now that the demand for travel has really started to increase and people are really looking forward to traveling again, that’s even more important. ”
Now to the real test; board the plane, go through the motion, and finally, the plane in motion. It taxis for about half an hour, accelerating and slowing down.
Mayra Cabrela, Mansfield’s parent, said, “So far, they’ve done a great job, everyone has been so kind and helpful and it’s been a really great experience for us.”
While some children felt restless, most seemed to handle the mock flight very well.
This opportunity is only available once a year at nine airports across the country.