Wings for All simulation helps teach kids with autism how to travel

For many, traveling can be overwhelming.

Between a busy airport, making sure you reach your flight on time, and then sitting through the bumps and jolts of takeoff, it’s enough to make any traveler feel stressed.

For children who have autism or struggle with sensory overload, flying in an airplane can be an especially difficult time.

The Wings for All program hopes to change that.

Hosted by The Arc of Spokane, Wings for All is “designed to alleviate the stress that families who have a child with autism or intellectual/developmental disabilities experience when flying,” according to the event’s Facebook page.

On Saturday, families gathered at the Spokane International Airport, baggage in hand. As part of the simulation, those families were able to check in for their flight, go through security, wait at the gate and even board the plane.

Though not actually flying anywhere, parents were able to go through the motions of traveling with their child.

“My son is 17 years old and we’ve never tried because wer were afraid it would just be too much, it would be over-stimulating and we don’t want it to be hard on him and the passengers,” said Kirsten Amman, a mother attending the event.

“We try to be respectful, so this is huge to be able to practice, have the opportunity in a safe environment, and if it doesn’t work out, we can bail,” Amman added. “It’s just a wonderful opportunity.”