Autistics on a Plane


All you need to do these days is read the news and you will most likely find a story about a child/kid/baby (or adult, let us not forget!) who turned the plane into Lord of the Flies and was either kicked off, made the plane land, turned the plane around and ruined the lives of everyone on board. I can barely get through a ten minute quick stop at the grocery store for milk with my two in tow, so I cannot fathom taking them on a plane. However, I know that children fly every day and unless you have a private jet (damn you blog for not making me rich immediately!) and if you fly, you will encounter these tiny minions in the air.

Nothing will get on your nerves like a continuously crying child. I get it! I have three children and love them all dearly, but the sound IS like fingernails going down a chalkboard. You saved up, you planned and arranged this vacation FOREVER. You get on the plane and Satan’s offspring is wailing like someone is stabbing him. I get that too! While I do believe that the majority of parents out there do plan in advance to do everything possible to entertain and keep little ones quiet and occupied, there are just some times when you have to endure it. This whole business of kicking families off planes and demonizing them is getting a bit ridiculous. If you are drunk and yelling on a plane (not that people don’t do that to escape the screaming children stress), you’re going to be reprimanded and sometimes even arrested, but you are an ADULT and should know better. However, if you think about the experience from a child’s point of view, then the whole situation should become clearer for you.


Now take the entire experience and add in AUTISM. Autism, which makes changes and transitions very stressful and difficult, add in heightened fears and anxiety and other issues and you have the recipe for a very stressful experience for everyone. There are some who suggest that “those people should drive or find another way to get to their destination”. Well, people feel the same way about people who don’t shower, wear deodorant, brush their teeth, wear perfume and talk too much, but they are allowed on. It’s only when the “collective” can get behind an issue that people really start getting attacked. You’ve seen the headline stories with families, head hung in shame as their family is escorted off a plane for crying. Does anyone not see how RIDICULOUS this is? Many families go out of their way to prepare their children for flights, even attending flight simulations to help acclimate their child. While this is not always possible, airlines and those who travel on them are going to have to find a middle ground.

If you are in a movie theater and you have a child who cannot behave, you get up, take the child to the main area outside and either keep them there or calm them, then return. You cannot do this on a plane, so it creates an inescapable dilemma. I truly do not have a solution, but I know that it really needs to be dealt with other than the drama unfolding in the skies. Crying children on a plane is not a sign of bad parenting or not doing what you can. Yes, in some cases, clueless parents get on planes, just like stinky adults and think it’s OK to let their children run amok or stink up the plane. However, shaming families for traveling with children needs to stop and a solution found, or at the very least, compassion and understanding. I wouldn’t want to fly off to my first vacation in years and have a child screaming his head off in the next aisle, but I also don’t want to see them escorted off the plane either.


My two children flew, unaccompanied to the great castle playground in the south. (I say unaccompanied, but they did have an uncle on board, who is blind, but he was there to talk to them, so not truly unaccompanied. Unaccompanied by ME is a better way to put it). They are 11 and 18 and both Autistic. I was a wreck wondering about their behavior and the entire flight in general. I was thrilled to find out that they behaved and acted appropriately. While I’d like to think it was a great testament to my amazing parenting (alright, maybe a little bit!) I did try to prepare them as much as possible and made sure they had things to occupy them, snacks, etc. They are also higher functioning and can handle more situations successfully. In the meantime, maybe we could all try to be a little bit nicer to each other.

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