On Wednesday, over 150 people in the autism community traveled to Orlando International Airport to walk through the full airport experience at Blue Horizons for Autism. Autism Speaks would like to extend a big thank you to JetBlue Airways for their help with this successful and fun-filled afternoon.
Participants arrived and checked in at JetBlue's ticket counter, went through security, traveled on an airport tram, waited at the gate and boarded the plane. They also sat through the safety instructions on the plane, met with the pilots and enjoyed the in-flight snack service. Volunteers were on hand from Interventions Unlimited and Aptitude Habilitation Services to help the participants every step of the way. Read more about the afternoon in the Orlando Sentinel here.
"For the last few years, we have not taken a vacation, or visited family out of town for fear of what it might do to our son Gavin," said one participant. "The last flight we took when he was 3 was rough for him, and he was very frightened. The fear of the unknown terrifies him. This process allowed us to take our time and work through fears along the way. It allowed us as parents to navigate our own reactions to each specific situation."
"Yesterday's Blue Horizons changed the future for many families," said Karen Bacharach, Autism Speaks senior director of field development in North and Central Florida. "Seeing a mom cry as she departed the plane, not out of sadness, but out of the joy she felt for having been able to have this experience with her child, that's a future changed. And the mom who mentioned to Jet Blue staff that after many years, she now feels confident enough to take her child to visit their family in South America. The future for this entire family will be changed."