The December 3, 2012 issue of People magazine features a Heroes Among Us article which includes Wendy Ross, a pediatrician in Philadelphia. Ross developed an air-travel program at Philadelphia International Airport with clinicians and airlines that allows children with autism the opportunity to practice everything related to air travel including check-in, security screening, and boarding a flight so as to reduce challenging behaviors. Parents are finding the program a huge help in making air travel a smoother experience. According to the article, United Airlines starts rolling out the program this month nationally through Ross’s Autism Inclusion Resources (AIR), the nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children with autism prepare for air travel.
Little Star Research and Training Director, Tim Courtney said, “Research indicates that children with autism are often very anxious, much more so then their same-aged peers. Treatments to help children with autism overcome their anxieties are gaining widespread acceptance due to their effectiveness. We’ve had great success at Little Star addressing anxieties related to the dentist, loud and obnoxious hand dryers, and haircuts. The article does not include particular information about the intervention being used to address fear of flying or other issues related to travel e.g. waiting in line, loud noisy environments, etc., but I would bet it is very similar to the desensitization approach we have implemented.”