First "Wings For All" event held at ABIA for families with autistic children

Traveling and flying can be overwhelming for many and for those who children with Autism or other developmental disorders it can be really stressful. That's why American Airlines, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and the ARC all teamed up for the “Wings For All” event Saturday to try to help those families.
A family vacation is something families normally do but for the Morrison family, it's still a dream. “The furthest little Collin, who is now 9 years old, is Waco, the zoo, that's about as far as we've gone,” Chris Morrison said. “We are trying to do this as a dry run to hopefully take them to the beach or something. They love the water, and I think they’d go crazy to see waves,” he said.

Not one, but both of their sons have been diagnosed with the disorder. “They are both non-verbal and they are both flight risks and by flight I don’t mean airplane, run away risks, so this is what very scary,” Chris said. Even scarier can be the stress that flying can cause for the little passengers.

The event “Wings for All” is specially designed for children with autism disorders, their families and aviation professionals. Deborah Wallace works for the Arc of Texas, “The majorities of these families have not traveled, but they do have travel plans, so that was really important that we get this in before the end of the year because so many already have these travel plans to get this experience for them,” she said. The program aims to help ease the stress some may experience when traveling with families who have a child with autism or other developmental disorders.

The Morrison family went through all the procedures of a normal passenger, including checking in, going through security, and boarding the plane. The captain revved the engines so all the passengers could see what it felt like. The end results for the Morrison family are mostly positive, “We're definitely going to want tighter connection, let's just say that the last 45 minutes were tough.” But the realized after the event, that their dreams of a family vacation may soon become a reality. “I think the combination of iPads and being in the air will work” Chris said. The family said they want to travel to the beach in North Carolina where they have family who has a beach house and they are hoping to go next spring.