Flying and autism
January 17, 2012 4:40 PM   Subscribe

A Philadelphia program is bringing families, airport employees and airlines together to help autistic kids fly more comfortably.

One of the basic principles at work, systematic desensitization, is one technique used to help many individuals on the autism spectrum cope with stimuli that may cause anxiety. On the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis page, you can search for "desensitization" and find several evidence-based studies where this process has been used successfully, including this one in which the participant is treated for a fear of animatronic objects.
posted by chela (7 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How nice! I can only imagine how scary the whole flying experience would be for a child with autism who was unfamiliar with the process.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:47 PM on January 17, 2012

Thank you! I love reading about people really working to be empathetic and make life better for others.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:43 PM on January 17, 2012

My son gets over stimulated going through the airport and security, goes wide eyed in terror when the plane starts up, and then conks out and sleeps until we touch down. I wish there was a desensitising program for the three ring circus leading up to take off.
posted by FunkyHelix at 6:20 PM on January 17, 2012

I have difficulties believing this because it involves Philadelphia's airport making the flying experience less terrible for someone.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:44 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

But if it's true, then good on them! Maybe I won't dread going back and visiting the US as much in the future if this sort of thing becomes a trend, and we move away from "how much like a police state can we make flying on a passenger plane" like we have now.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:45 PM on January 17, 2012

Oo! Do tall people next! Please!
posted by Hoopo at 8:03 PM on January 17, 2012

Recently we were boarding a plane for a long flight, and a flight attendant was standing in my son's way. He tried to shove past her, but she wasn't going to let him by until he asked politely for her to move. Mr. Corpse leaned over and said "He has autism;" the attendant scrambled out of the way as fast as she could.

So, at least one flight attendant on Alaska Airlines knows how to pick her battles.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:20 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

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