A new program at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is trying to help take the anxiety out of air travel for families traveling with children who have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The program lets families come to the airport for a "dry run" that enables kids to see what will happen before travel day, taking the surprise element out of the complicated and potentially overwhelming experience of flying. More from Minneapolis' KARE- 11 News:
"(They) really try to get over the sensory issues they'll face like this, and hopefully have a good experience, and then when they do fly, they've already been through this," said Dawn Brasch, with the Autism Society of Minnesota.
Volunteers lead the families through every step in the airport process, from security, to finding their way through the crowds, and even practicing the boarding process and finding their seats on a plane.
"Instead of doing it for the first time when there's already added stress of going on vacation, it's just like doing it again," Nielsen said.
The Autism Society says it's a helpful lesson not only for families, but for airport workers too.
"They don't have the physical attributes of autism, you can't just see it, so you don't necessarily know when somebody's coming through and they're having a difficult time," Brasch said.
Image: Mother and child at airport, via Shutterstock