Congressman Bob Brady recently introduced a resolution that applauds the Einstein Healthcare Network, Southwest Airlines and Philadelphia International Airport for instituting best practices procedures for helping families with autistic children when they are traveling.
Understanding that children with autism represent a special population that may require additional training for airline employees, as well as preparation for travel, Einstein Healthcare Network, Southwest Airlines, the Philadelphia International Airport have collaborated with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the University of the Sciences, and the Gray Center, in Michigan, to help families better navigate airports. “This teaming up on behalf of families with autistic children certainly deserves to be honored,” Brady said.
While a simple outing to a public place may become a highly charged and traumatic experience for an autistic child, travel may also trigger an emotional reaction. So to ensure that there is sensitivity and support for these families, The Autism Accessibility Program at Einstein reached out to Southwest Airlines and enlisted the support of the Philadelphia International Airport to help the airline become more orientated to the needs of autistic children.
Training sessions for airport employees are on-going and families now have the opportunity to take part in simulated flights to help them prepare their children for the flight experience. In addition, Einstein has placed preparatory materials for families on their website.
The Congressman said many legislators have indicated that they support the resolution. He also said the training model may prove helpful to other community settings, like the Smithsonian, with whom Einstein is also collaborating. “Einstein, Southwest Airlines and the Philadelphia International Airport became aware of the problem and are on a course of collaboration to develop a model that can be helpful for families and other public places,” the Congressman said.