Air travel can be stressful for even the most seasoned travelers, but for those who have autism and experience difficulty waiting, hypersensitivity to crowds and noise, anxiety and communication challenges, it can be even more difficult. As a result, flying is simply not an option for many families in the autism community.
On Sunday, October 28th, Autism Speaks and JetBlue hosted families at JFK’s JetBlue Terminal to participate in their Blue Horizons Event. Families were given an opportunity to navigate the air travel experience in a realistic and controlled environment, surrounded and supported by caring volunteers, Jet Blue employees, members of the TSA and NSSA’s experienced clinical team, as well as other families in the autism community. They checked in, received boarding passes, went through security, waited to be called for boarding and sat through an in-flight safety training. Once everyone was on board, the plane taxied around the runway for 15 minutes giving everyone the feel of an actual flight.
A team of NSSA’s behavior analysts was on-hand to provide support to families, helping to reduce anxiety, stress and behavioral challenges.
Christie Godowski and Virginia A. Connell of Autism Speaks Long Island recently came to visit NSSA and generously donated two iPads for our students to use. “The use of the iPad and iPad 2 have made a significant impact on the students of the Martin C. Barell School and NSSA, ” according to Michael J. Cunningham, M.S., Ed., M.S., CCC-SLP, Coordinator of Assistive Technology Services. “Through the use of handheld mobile technology we have provided students with access to greater opportunities for recreation, leisure, instruction, and most importantly, communication. We are able to provide students with an augmentative/alternative communication (AAC) system in a time efficient manner and conduct long term trials that emulate a variety of speech generating devices. As iPads are commercially available and many students and families already have a personal system we can provide back-ups to all AAC systems so that it is available in the home, school and community while acquiring comparable speech generating devices.”
The iPad has proven to be an invaluable tool at the Martin C. Barell School as many of our students successfully use the devices for communication and learning.
Thanks, Autism Speaks, for giving our students more opportunities for communication!