I just finished reading a post from Autism-Mom, PREPARATION AND PANIC about the preparations for their big trip coming up – or should I say the “mind-race while one is trying to sleep” -preparations she is making for her family trip.
I had to laugh out loud as I have been doing the same thing. Our trip is just a couple of days away and along with the “mind-race” and the anxiety about being the absolute worst packer in the world, there is work to contend with.
“We are leaving on Friday, so my last day in the office will be Thursday”
“So you need everything on Thursday?”
“Nooooooo, I need everything before Thursday so I have time to actually finish everything before I leave on Thursday”
We’ll see how that goes…..
We will be traveling to the same place as Autism-Mom and we did compare calendars to see if we could have coffee in London, we discovered we were close but no cigar – we would not be there at the same time.
As many lists that I make and as many times as I go over everything in my mind, I always forget something. Once, being so proud of myself for not forgetting the one thing I was sure I’d forget, I discovered when we arrived that I did not pack a single shirt for DC – not one!
Then there is me:
I do not have many clothes that fit me because I have gained some weight – shhh. I will not go out and buy new clothes because that would be admitting defeat…. So I have to wait until the very last minute to pack all of my clothes because, you know, I have to wear some of them until we leave.
The flight is also making me anxious. I am not one who can ever sleep on a plane, ever. I can’t sit still in those seats. DC, on the other hand is very good on airplanes – now, not so much when he was young – but he is really good now.
DC has flown quite a bit, but this will be his longest flight so far. Security is always a bit overwhelming for him, but he gets through it. As many times as he has flown before, he never had to go through the body scan until our trip in October to North Carolina’s Mountain of OZ.
There were a few times over the years when the security lines were not very busy and I wanted him to go through so I could explain it to him without holding up the line, but as soon as I mentioned “Autism”, they whisked him though the old walk-through before I had the chance to finish my sentence. That was fine, but I really wanted him to do it once in case there was ever a time that we weren’t given the choice. Of course I do explain it all to him while we’re in line and make him watch what everyone else is doing, just in case but as you know, no amount of explaining can take the place of doing.
Heading home from the Charlotte airport – it happened. He had to go through the body scan. As always I explained and showed him what he had to do while waiting in the line. Doug went through first as always and waited on the other side. I was behind DC. The security people saw us giving him instructions and the woman let me get up close so I can show him exactly what to do. He put his feet on the foot prints and raised his arms and waited for them to tell him he was finished. He did a great job.
He turned to walk out of the body scan when the guard on the other side near where Doug was waiting, grabbed DC with absolutely no notice and without saying a word and searched him! It happened too fast for either of us to react! DC was now screaming “Not all right! Not alright!” while I was trying to get through the scan to get to him. Both security guards saw us giving him directions. I told the woman he has Autism. I thought that they ‘got it’. There was no way they could not have seen that maybe they should approach with care or at least say something to him before he was grabbed and patted down.
I finally made it to the other side and DC was still yelling and really could not function – he couldn’t get his shoes and other items off of the conveyor belt – he just continued to yell, fists in the air “Not all right!”. Now all of the other security people in the area were watching as I tried to calm him down. I was praying that none of them would say anything or try to approach him and make matters worse. He was really causing a “disturbance” in the airport. This went on for a good long while. I had him sit down and tried to explain to him that he did everything correctly. The man should not have grabbed him without letting him know first. This was not his fault and he had every right to be upset. Eventually he did calm down and there were no aftershocks on the flight home.
People do at times overlook him completely and direct their questions to me instead of talking to him. I do always ask him the question myself and make sure he gives the person the answer himself. I mentioned earlier in the post that I thought that there was no way on earth that the security guards did not understand even before I explained that DC has Autism. Now as I think about it, I wonder if they actually did understand and decided that due to his Autism, they did not really need to talk to DC directly at all…… and THAT is a problem.
Versions of this post were also published:
On the Mighty: “My Son Did a Great Job at Airport Security. But This Guard Did Not.”
and at The Behavior Station
I STRONGLY DISAPPROVE of the way that security treated DC. Not even an EXPLANATION or a word ? Unbelievable. Really unbelievable….. Putting it mildly.
I know! Had they done that to everyone else, I could have at least warned him, but they did not. They treated him like he wasn’t a person. Thank you for reading.
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EXACTLY. Needless to say, I was shocked. Security staff need to be trained in how to deal with people who have special needs or have neurological / neuro – muscular / cognitive disorders. I mean, they need some sensitivity awareness.
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I love the phrase “mind-race” – very apt!
Egads, what the heck was wrong with those TSA folks? Security does not need intimidation, and that’s what the were doing. Wrong. Very very wrong. I hope you have very smooth sailing for this trip!
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If I had seen them do that to anyone else I would have discussed it with DC while giving him all of the other instructions, but they did not pat down or search anyone. Still…. There was no reason to do that they way they did. At the airport now – what a difference! Did not have to remove shoes, electronics….. Nothing. and we ended up in the line with the old walk through, so everything went smoothly. (Have my Tylenol PM ready for take off. Fingers crossed for some sleep😃)
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You are on my mind, sending good snoozy safe thoughts!
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Thank you for sharing this unfortunate experience with us. I completely agree with your message that not talking to people with autism is not the answer. Different, not less! I also love that you pointed out that at first, you thought there was no way they did not understand he had autism, but then you reconsidered. I think that, while autism “awareness” has increased, simply being aware of autism’s existence is not enough. People also need to be educated on what autism is, what it might look like, and that all individuals with autism are different.
I have created a company, The Behavior Station, to transport resources. I have chosen to work with people with autism and developmental disabilities due to having family members on the spectrum, and I have dedicated my career as a behavior analyst to helping families like my own. My goal is to not only spread awareness, but more importantly, acceptance and understanding of autism.
I would be honored to repost this on The Behavior Station’s blog (https://thebehaviorstation.com). All authorship would remain yours, and we would provide a link to this original post. Please send me your contact information or email me at Tiffany@TheBehaviorStation.com to discuss more details.
Tiffany N Kilby
Hi Tiffany, we are away right now and Internet is sporadic at best. I can get to your site but I can’t open any of the menu items. If you wouldn’t mind waiting until I have better access – which may possibly be when I get home – I would be happy to discuss with you. Thank you for reading!
No problem! I look forward to hearing from you.
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