It is summertime, the season of family vacations. It is a time for making family memories. Travel can be a lot of fun, but it can also be stressful and difficult if there are excessive delays. This can be especially challenging for families of children with special needs.
Recently our family travelled from New Jersey to Georgia by airplane. All of four of our children were able to accompany us: Brendan, Colin, Danielle and Shannon. We traveled lightly and made it to the airport easily. We contacted the airport TSA prior to our trip to see what accommodations could be made for our daughter, Danielle, who has autism. We had traveled before with her and knew that going through security could be challenging because of her lack of language and difficulty understanding instructions.
When we arrived at the airport security line, we informed the TSA representative about Danielle’s autism and we were sent to a special entrance which reduced our wait time a lot. They took special care with Danielle, allowing us to stand by her and explain instructions so she would understand. They treated her with kindness and respect. We were through security before we knew it.
Our airline accommodated us at the gate as well. We were allowed to pre-board and this made it easy to find our seats and organize our carry-on bags. Danielle made sure that her bag was safely stored under the seat in front of her. This was a whole lot easier without the rush and bustle of trying to board with everyone else. It turned out there was a long delay waiting on the tarmac before take-off but Danielle took it in stride, in some ways better than the rest of us. All things considered, we arrived at our destination much more relaxed than we might have been because of the accommodations.
The flight home went very well too. In fact the TSA representative came up to us and asked if we were the Rizzo family. She said she recognized our voices from a phone call we made to her two weeks before. She personally escorted us through the security line paying special attention to Danielle and her needs. Talk about making things easy for families traveling with children or young adults with special needs! We were quite impressed with how TSA accommodated us both on the flight over and the return trip. We want to thank them.
Fear of traveling especially by jet plane often prevents families of special needs children from getting out there. The accommodations we received from TSA and the airline helped us to forget that fear, and allowed all of us to expand our comfort zones a little.
Saint Augustine has been credited with saying, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” May your travels this summer be fun and safe. May memories be made.
Copyright 2019 Dave and Mercedes Rizzo