Joining us this week are Andie McClendon, Director of Development with The Arc of San Antonio, and Tonya Hope, Public Relations Manager with the San Antonio Airport System. In this episode we talk about the Wings for Autism®/Wings for All® (Wings) for All event scheduled on December 11, 2019 at the San Antonio International Airport.
The Arc’s Wings for Autism®/Wings for All® (Wings) program gives families and aviation professionals the confidence to take to the skies with ease by providing an airport “rehearsal,” as well as a presentation on the aircraft features and in-flight safety protocols. Chapters of The Arc, local partners, and airport/airline/TSA personnel work collaboratively to design and carry out each Wings event. Should you have questions for the TSA, offers information at TSA Cares
For Individuals and Families
Wings alleviates some of the stress that people with autism and other I/DDs and their families experience when traveling by air by providing families with the opportunity to experience and learn about how their loved ones will react to different stimuli in the airport.
For Aviation Professionals
Wings gives airport, airline, TSA professionals, and other personnel the opportunity to observe, interact, and deliver their services in a structured learning environment—improving their disability competency and processes for accommodating ALL passengers who fly.
During a Wings Event: Participant Activities
* Check-in to receive boarding passes
* Pass through the TSA security checkpoint
* Wait in the boarding area
* Board an aircraft (that does not take off)
Wings for All - Making the Skies Friendlier for Everyone
Part of living a full life in the community includes being able to travel to faraway locations for both work and pleasure. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are entitled to this piece of community participation—just like anyone else—and should be able to navigate air transit comfortably to experience the same opportunities as every other traveler.
Why It Matters
People with autism and other I/DDs often experience barriers to participating in air travel. Airports and airplanes can be overwhelming and full of unexpected and overstimulating variables, such as bright lights, noises, TSA security screening, and crowds. Too often, there is a lack of understanding among airport and airline staff—leading to confusion on how to handle accommodations or unexpected behaviors when a flier is overwhelmed or nervous about navigating the air travel process. Combined, these barriers lead to hesitation and fear, inhibiting participation in air travel. As a result, people can miss out on new experiences and connecting with family members and friends that live far away.
Wings for Autism® was created by Charles River Center, an affiliated chapter of The Arc, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Port Authority. For additional information about bringing Wings to an airport near you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travelers may also call TSA Cares toll free at 1-855-787-2227 prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.
Autism, Autism Spectrum & Intellectual Disabilities - Inform the TSA Officer: Passengers with intellectual disabilities or developmental disabilities, such as Down syndrome or autism, can be screened without being separated from their traveling companions if traveling with one. You or your traveling companion may consult the TSA officer about the best way to relieve any concerns during the screening process. You may also provide the officer with the TSA notification card or other medical documentation to describe your condition.
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