Event at SLC airport helps children on Autism spectrum prepare for air travel

Posted at 4:41 PM, Aug 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-21 23:36:53-04

SALT LAKE CITY – Going to the airport and taking a flight can be a thrill, especially if it’s your first time on a plane. But, it can also be a challenge.

“You think about the lines that you go through, the different noises, the different smells that you experience during a travel encounter, that can become extremely overwhelming for individuals on the Autism spectrum,” said James Vaughn.

Vaughn is the President of Families for Autism and Asperger’s Standing Together (F.A.A.S.T.).

To help parents and their kids get ready to fly, Vaughn helped organize the ‘Taking Flight for Autism’ event, a simulation at the Salt Lake City International Airport. Thirty families went through check-in, security and boarding to practice and ease some fears. But the training isn’t just for the kids going on their first flight.

“It trains the stewardesses and the people that were here to know what to expect in case they see a child with a meltdown; they’re not thinking, they’re being naughty or whatever,” said Lisa Pauley.

Her son, Davis, is on the Autism spectrum. Together, they will fly to southern California in three weeks for a family vacation.

Davis had heard the bathrooms on an airplane can be loud. That created some anxiety, for both him and his mother. During the simulation, he had a chance to work through that anxiety and check out the bathrooms for himself.

It's the little things like that his mom Lisa says most people don’t think of when it comes to working with people on the Autism spectrum.

If you can to learn about future ‘Taking Flight for Autism’ events you can visit the F.A.A.S.T. Facebook page.