▶️ RDM and Alaska Airlines partner to help autistic travelers

BY MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

Airport travel can be overwhelming. And it can be even more intimidating for those with autism and their loved ones.

On Saturday a travel trial run will give families the chance to see what works and what doesn’t, without all the pressure.

“This is called Sky’s The Limit, it is a practice run or dress rehearsal for taking an airplane flight.” said Tobi Rates, executive director for the Autism Society of Oregon. “It’s for families of people who are on the autism spectrum or experience any disability.”

The Autism Society of Oregon will be partnering with the Redmond Airport and Alaska Airlines to get those on the autism spectrum comfortable with the flying process.

They’ll receive boarding passes, go through airport security, board a plane, and experience the sounds of feelings of a plane that’s about to take off.

“It gives a chance for families to try and go on an airplane trip with everything that’s included such as going through security, going through an airport, all the changes in routine, all the sensory impacts, in a low-stakes way,” Rates said. 

Sky’s The Limit also allows TSA professionals to adapt to the needs of flyers with autism in a structured environment.

“We want them to smile, have a good time, and know that this is a safe place for them,” said Cindy Fugate, TSA lead officer at RDM. “The way we talk to them, handle them, and engage with them and their families is really important. We want all of them to feel comfortable coming through at any time, they can do this.”

Ultimately, the event gets those with autism one step closer to making an airline trip a reality.

“That’s how people build family memories, going on vacation, meeting family members who live out of state or out of the country. It’s just part of creating a community experience,” Rates said. 

Space is limited, but if you’re interested in participating, call 503-636-1676 or email events@autismsocietyoregon.org

 

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