June 20, 2017

Autism on an Airplane

We are now home from our week long Florida vacation!  Travel is stressful.  Add autism to the mix, and it just amplifies it.  I was very pleased with how Brandon did in the airport leaving home.  We waited for the shuttle to take us from the parking lot to the terminal, and Brandon absolutely refused to get on the shuttle.  I was not anticipating this reaction from him, as he had ridden buses and shuttles before.  Whenever he refuses to budge we always say he "put on the brakes."  Well, he put on the brakes over getting on this bus!  I gestured and calmly told him, "We ARE getting on this bus."  I tired to walk him up to no avail, while my husband is busy loading four giant suitcases.  I finally had to hoist him under my arm like a sack of potatoes and carry him on.  Once we got moving he settled right down.  The bus driver was watching all of this unfold in the rearview mirror, and I could only imagine what he was thinking!  He asked if our little one was okay, and I explained that Brandon has autism and didn't want to get on the bus - he didn't understand what was happening, but once it clicked he was fine.  It turns out this man used to drive a special needs bus and was very familiar with these kinds of reactions.

Side note:  It's interesting to me how awareness has evolved even in just three years.  Nearly every time I talk about autism, whoever I am talking to either has a family member, or know someone with autism.  People just seem to get it (for the most part).

So, we flew Southwest and got "pre boarding" printed on Brandon's ticket.  This allowed us to pre-board so that we would either get the very front row, or get a seat where James could sit in front of Brandon so that if someone was being kicked the whole time, at least it was one of us!  They cannot require to us to show proof of disability, although, I always bring it with me to things like this just in case.  I just don't want to mess with any delay at all.  We take is high back booster with a five point harness on the plane.  He put on the brakes again going into an aisle on the plane until his car seat was strapped in.  I could not imagine flying without his car seat.  There is no way I could physically make this six-year-old who is super strong for his age anyway, remain in a seat with standard airplane seatbelt   Eventually I will likely have to look into harnesses specifically made for airplanes for people with special needs.

Speaking of not having a car seat...

On the way back we left the car seat in our friend's car!  Brandon was NOT having a good day, and just as we were about to go through security, we realized we forgot it.  James had to go back to get it and we were forced to go through security without him and hope that he made it back before the flight took off.  I cried through it.  Not boo hoo sobs, but constant stream of tears.  I have NEVER cried in public from having to deal with Brandon's behavior.  I have cried in the car. I have cried when I got home.  I have never stood there, in front of so many people, and just cried.  But I guess there is a first for everything.  One of the TSA associates asked me, "Why are you upset?"  I think I just looked at her all doe eyed, speechless.  She asked, "Are you late for your flight?"  I just told her, "It's just been a hard day," and moved on.  Thankfully, we got though it, tears and all, and James made it with the car seat for the flight home.

All in all, it was a wonderful vacation with even more wonderful friends!















2 comments:

  1. Thank you for keeping it real. I wish I could say I had only cried in public once with regard to autism stuff... ;P You are a wonderful mom, Rachael!

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