Wings for Autism Success Story
This story was sent to us after the Wings for Autism Louisville event we hosted this year. We wanted to share it and support those who benefited from this experience. If anyone wishes to share their story, please contact our Executive Director at email@example.com
“Our grandson is named Carter and we signed him up for this hoping that he would someday be able to tolerate a flight somewhere. Carter not only has Autism but also apraxia which limits his speech. He is thirteen years old and just starting to put three and four words together to create a sentence. He is very social but doesn’t like big crowds. From the start he seemed very receptive. We parked and entered in the airport. He loved the moving sidewalk. We raced and of course he won. We registered at the table and went to stand in line to get our tickets. Teri Clarke was the name of our ticket agent and she was very helpful and Carter really liked her. After getting our tickets we went through airport security and had to take our shoes off. He resisted at first, but after seeing everyone had to do this we made a game of it and he cooperated. We made it to our gate and there was a good size crowd. He met the airport policeman and had his picture with the pilot after a little coaxing.
When it came time to board the plane we stood up and he showed his ticket and we proceeded down the Tarmac to the plane. Just when we were turning to go into the plane he froze. Wouldn’t go no further. He is very sensitive to certain sounds and I believe the noise of the jet just made him freeze. After talking and begging from kids, the pilot, attendants and Teri, the ticket agent, he finally turned around and walked back to the terminal. He sat at the window and watched the ground crew work.
We were disappointed, we were so close. The pilot waved several times from the cockpit and he waved back. My wife got to talking with Tiffany Diehl, a volunteer and a behavior therapist. In the meantime Teri went to talk with her supervisor about allowing Carter to try and board the plane after everyone had gotten off. He agreed to do this and Tiffany, who became aware of this, asked Carter to help her hand out surveys and ask if Carter would want to go help her and the pilot with his bags. He said yes!
So when the plane was empty and all the surveys were handed out, we all walked together down the Tarmac to the plane. He froze up again, but this time he was standing at the entrance and could see into the plane. There was a crowd who encouraged Carter. The ground crew, attendants, pilots, the policeman, Tiffany, Teri and others. I went on and walked into the jet and kept asking him to come aboard. Everyone was asking. Thing is, he was making baby steps toward the plane. Finally, after asking if he wanted a picture with the pilot, he stepped in cautiously. He rounded the turn and slowly made his way to the pilot. He nervously sat and had his picture made. Then another with Teri. The fear was starting to leave somewhat. This was joyous and after about ten to fifteen minutes we got off the plane. Carter hugged everyone the lined the Tarmac. My wife cried along with others who got the chance to see a child make it over another hurdle.
Very thankful to you, The Arc of Kentucky, Delta Airlines and their staff, and the host of volunteers who made this possible.”
Bob, Angie, and Carter