Traveling can be tiresome and overwhelming for many, but for children on the autism spectrum, it can be especially difficult. Many families avoid air travel because they are unsure how their autistic child will react to the stress of flying. To help these families, San Antonio International Airport has partnered with the Any Baby Can, American Airlines, TSA, Charley’s Grilled Subs and Bon Du Monde to introduce the newly created Wings to Soar program at the Airport.
The Wings to Soar program is specially designed for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, their families and aviation professionals. It is designed to alleviate some of the stress that families who have a child with autism experience when traveling by air. The two-part program provides a valuable training opportunity for airport, airline and TSA personnel to learn how to accommodate children with special needs and increase awareness within the airport community so that children with autism – and their families – can have a positive travel experience. Wings to Soar also serves as a “dress rehearsal” for these families giving them the opportunity to experience travel through the Airport before they schedule a trip. Families are able to familiarize themselves with the facility and travel procedures, and kids have the opportunity to practice entering the airport, getting boarding passes, being screened, ordering food at an airport concession and boarding an aircraft. The Wings to Soar program trained 40 employees and hosted 9 families during the launch.