Local keiki on autism spectrum spread their wings

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Flying is stressful for nearly everybody. The rushing, waiting, crowded spaces, and tight quarters.

So you can imagine how much that’s magnified for families with a child who is on the autism spectrum.

Delta and the Autism Society of Hawaii held a walkthrough at Daniel K. Inouye International called “Look. I’m Flying.”

“Individuals on the spectrum may be on a plane and get an anxiety moment and go into a breakdown that is disruptive so we’re trying to create this program to put them more at ease so as families want to fly they have less worry about their child,” said Hawaii Autism Society Board President Dennis Maher.

Twenty keiki and their families went through everything, from check-in, TSA, waiting for the flight, and boarding the plane before getting a snack. They even got to see the cockpit.

“Yeah, I was getting emotional when he even walked to the cockpit, that’s like a huge step for him, yeah bud? Yeah,” said Parent John Michael Barludo.

“It’s really walking them through the whole process, making them feel comfortable, and making the parents comfortable with their kids up there,” said Delta Airlines Station Manager Willard Oshiro.

It’s not just for the kids. Crew and families get to learn how to handle real-life situations and many are excited to get to fly for the first time.

“There’s that feeling of not being alone, and it was huge especially for him to even board a plane,” said Barludo.

Another key is fellow passengers also having patience in a stressful situation.

“I think it’s about the patience you have to have with guys like him, and with patience is a lot of understanding and you know that, right?” said Barludo.

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