New Flight Simulator Event Helps Children with Autism Overcome Airport Stress

flight simulator helps children with autism

New Flight Simulator Event Helps Children with Autism Overcome Airport Stress

Navigating the airport and the complexities of traveling can be a challenge for anyone. Parents face a more stressful trip when they bring along the children. There are just so many things to worry about—luggage, tickets, passports, check-in, security, flight delays, and all the other details. When anxiety of flying is added for some, it's downright exhausting. 

Airport navigation and complexities of travelling can be challenging. When parents bring along with them children, they face a more stressful trip.  They have to worry about so many things. Moreover the anxiety of flight can just add to the stress.

To help kids adjust to the stresses of flight, a new flight simulation has been used in Salt Lake City. The simulation involves boarding the plane and preparing for take-off. A practice environment is created by such simulations. Families have a reassurance that they are only preparing for the trip and not actually leaving. Thus certain level of stress is removed. This event was hosted by James Vaughn. He is the president and cofounder of families for autism and Asperger’s standing together. According to him it can be a bit overwhelming for kids to go through the process of ticketing and security. They get an experience about the travel process. In this event about 100 people participated.

Regarding an upcoming trip one family discusses their concerns. Mindy is worried about her first flying experience with her daughter. She wants that through this event awareness is raised. Some families may not understand the significance of travelling with a child who has autism. If people are aware then the situation can become less stressful. Children with autism find difficulty expressing themselves. When such children become disruptive others become judgemental about the parenting.  Some families want their children to prepare for the flight and learn from the simulation. For Tiffany, it can be overwhelming for her children with autism to be surrounded by many people. She wants her kids to learn from the simulation as she is planning a trip and she feels this simulation will make things easier.

According to Vaughan, autism broadens the gaps of understanding in the society since it is an invisible disability. Parents worry about travelling with their children but this simulation will give them an assurance and confidence that they can handle things. For six years this simulation has been occurring. It can be quite terrifying in an airport to keep track of the kids and making it through the entire process of security.  Amber Jones is more worried about keeping an eye on other children. She is not much worried about her son with autism. This simulation teaches about airport safety and also she can keep track on other children. She feels grateful for having such simulations.

The families check in, board the flight and go through the usual preparation of airplane and the demonstration of safety. For three years the pilot participating is Jim Hailey. He loves to see the relief on parent’s faces and excitement in kids.  The parents get an idea on how well things will go on real flight and the kids can experience an airport. According to him what is upsetting for the child is not the actual flying but the child gets frightened of going through the process of security, checking in, boarding and being surrounded by many people. Once the families are on board, the families have easier time since the people inside are quite and there is not much happening after takeoff.

For a variety of professions simulation activity is used hence it can be used for those on spectrum as well. Since people with autism can get real life experience with comfort hence simulation activities are important. They also are reassured that nothing that goes wrong will end up becoming serious.