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Should I 'advertise' that my DS has ASD when travelling?

(8 Posts)
adelinehillman Fri 12-Apr-13 14:02:49

We are going on holiday in a few weeks to Corfu. Last year, my DS (who wasn't then diagnoses with ASD) was 'difficult' at the airport. I think he found the whole situation stressful, which wasn't helped by security wanting to search him! We were the first on the aeroplane (because he was worried we were going to miss the flight) but then he fidgeted through the whole flight (I brought everything I could think of to entertain him) and the people around us complained.

Therefore, do you think people would be more forgiving/ understanding/compassionate if my DS wore a hat or a t-shirt stating he has ASD? I know i can make the cabin crew aware of the situation and of course with apologise to anyone by son disturbs; i just want to avoid the stares and looks of disgust.

Anyone had similar experiences? He has such a wonderful time when we are there that I don't want to rule out travelling.

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 12-Apr-13 14:53:49

Well, we get on the plane absolutely last, and go through the 'gate' last so that ds can run up and down the long corridoors. Being packed into a lounge waiting area is stressful for him, and getting last on the plane means that overall there is less time that I need to 'control' him iyswim.

Running up and down gets it all out of his system and increases the chances of him sitting down calmly. You can see the plane usually, and you can see that not everyone is on so it can't take off.

This 'generally' rules out some of the budget airlines though as you risk not getting a seat together (though you can insist you are put together for safety/disability reasons etc. but you'll be a right pita as people will have to be moved).

zzzzz Fri 12-Apr-13 15:02:39

It would make me feel uncomfortable to label ds1 like that, but I understand the issue. I think I might wear an "ASD awareness" type T-shirt myself if really pushed.

I'm lucky my Dh has a really fierce fuck off stare. grin

theDudesmummy Fri 12-Apr-13 15:59:11

I would very definitely flag it up with the airline. We had a good experience with Ryanair last summer because of good preparation and letting them know (budget airlines do also have special help for special needs passengers, Star, if you inform them in advance). We are flying with a different airline this summer but planning to do pretty much the same thing.

Here is what I wrote on Mumsnet at the time:

So much of the time we on this thread have a lot to complain about with regard to the way other people/organisations etc are unhelpful or non-understanding with respect to our SN children. I want to just put a good word out for a change!

We have just got back from a holiday with DS (ASD, non-verbal, aged 3), we flew with much trepidation, as the last time we took a flight with him we had a terrible time. Things went very well indeed this time, though. Well, we were more organised and prepared this time for sure, but Ryanair was also really helpful and good, and made everything go so easily.

Lots of things helped. Firstly their website has a useful section with advice re SN people. This included advice about approved travel harnesses to use on the plane, and I duly got one of these (DS can easily unbuckle a normal plane seatbelt, and on the previous flight just refused to stay in his seat once he had realised that he could get out. This led to much carrying-on, as of course he had to be in his seat for takeoff and landing, and also, when allowed to move the plane, he started trying to steal people's iPads and handbags!). This time, the harness worked a treat, he seemed to just accept that this was like a car trip, you simply get buckled in and there you stay.

Then, you can register an SN passenger with Ryanair, so they are aware in advance. At the airport (both ways) they could not have been more helpful. They allowed the rest of the family to get on the plane absolutely first, to be sure we all got seats together, my DH could get the harness ready, and get the iPad, cucumber slices, and other reinforcers in place etc. Then DS and I were allowed to get on the plane basically at the very last moment, when everyone else was seated, so no hanging aound in the aisle etc. He was whisked into his seat and strapped in, and we took off. No problems, all his stuff was at the ready and we had a great flight both ways.

The attitude of the staff (both staff here in the UK and local staff abroad) was just so helpful, concerned and nice, basically they really listened to what we said we needed to do and ensured that it happened.

I will be writing to Ryanair to say thanks to them but just wanted to share this here. I think Ryanair sometimes gets a bad press but on this occasion they really came up trumps.

theDudesmummy Fri 12-Apr-13 16:00:52

PS for the sake of completeness I admit that I also gave DS an antiemetic antihistimine to help things stay calm and non-sick!

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 12-Apr-13 17:23:40

'budget airlines do also have special help for special needs passengers, Star, if you inform them in advance'

yes. But it never seems to enable you to get on the plane last hmm which is absolutely key for ds.

Seems like you managed it though so perhaps I'll give it a go.

theDudesmummy Fri 12-Apr-13 18:45:36

I just told them how it was going to be, which included the rest of our party getting on first, and me and DS getting on last. They did not get the opportunity to alter the plan!

CwtchesAndCuddles Fri 12-Apr-13 19:16:34

I had a very good experience flying out of East Midlands last year with ds.
I contacted airport assistance and arranged for help through the airport - I asked if security staff had been given ASD awarness training and we were given free fasttrack tickets through security - the staff were fab!

I did buy a t shirt for ds which said " I have autism, please be patient with me" and he wore it travelling out and back. I was in two minds about it but found it was very helpful and got a lot of positive reaction.

Manchester airport have produced a guide for ASD passagers - it helpd prepare someone for travel like a social story with pictures of the airport.

www.manchesterairport.co.uk/manweb.nsf/alldocs/4D4CC20F97DD74008025736400407C2E/$File/Airport+Awareness+book.pdf

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