I was all too aware that we had disturbed all of the people around us, that none of them really knew what was going on. When they boarded the plane that day they could probably tell by the fact my 13 year old was wearing bright blue ear defenders, a sunflower lanyard and sucking his thumb with a taggie blanket, that something was different but they couldn’t have known he would have a melt down mid flight.
Those of us who have flown with autistic children know how much it helps if the airport has measures in place to help. Those who haven’t flown yet may feel reassured knowing what help is out there. There is conflicting advice with out of date viral posts on social media making it more confusing so I have researched current advice and help available. Here is a quick guide to travelling from each of the main airports, the help they have in place and how to access that help:
The statistics are shocking. Sky news have revealed that at least 40 people with a profound learning disability or autism have died while admitted to “barbaric” secure hospitals the government has promised to close since 2015. 9 of these were under 35! The number of children held in these places has doubled since 2015. Doubled.
This week Manchester University announced that they will be introducing a different way of clapping. Instead of applause at the end of lectures etc. they will be using the British Sign Language sign for applause, which is hand waving or as the news put it, ‘jazz hands’. This is a measure being put in place for those students who struggle with noise.
I watch. Helpless. My baby vacantly runs with nowhere to go. Effortlessly he climbs onto the car park wall, about to leap over to…to the ground far below. Before my feet can move I open my mouth and scare myself with the sound that comes out.
When Victoria Hatton asked for people to review her book, Talking Autism, I jumped at the chance. I respect Victoria as a fellow blogger with like-minded views to my own and was sure her book would live up to my expectations. Victoria is the founder and coach at Autism Consultancy International and has spent 20 years working with autistic children and young people across a range of settings.
Whilst there is a danger with all teens, autistic teens seem to be particularly at risk. Some struggle greatly making friends in person and find it easier to chat online and some struggle with social skills. Some may not understand the chats so are more vulnerable than their peers.
A lot of autistic teenagers take things literally and can believe what they are told. This could be very dangerous as a stranger telling a child they are their friend and the same age as them could be taken as fact.
Its nearly the end of term and things are winding down for Summer. Work is getting less and fun is getting more. Children are more excited, louder. Special days are arranged such as non uniform days, sports days, fun days, school plays, school trips and summer fairs. It’s been sunny so everyone has to wear sun cream and bring hats to wear at playtime. There are short visits to new classrooms to meet new teachers and promises of all things different in September.
I listened, from the other side of the door. Leave him they said, he will be fine. We will deal with him. You go home.”
Go home they said. I was to go home with feelings of being helplessly pushed out of my child’s life at a time when he needed me most, the same feelings as every day.
On trips out there is always the possibility of a child wandering off or becoming lost. When you have autistic children they may not be able to communicate with strangers that they are lost. They may not be able to learn how to find a safe person. They may be prone to running if they are upset or scared. All of these things can be concerning to parents when taking their child out for the day. Here are our ten top tips for safeguarding autistic children on days out.