As I make preparations for our upcoming vacation I notice that I am more apprehensive than I usually am. I am worried about DC’s seizures. I am worried about being on a ship if he should have a seizure. His doctor informed me that DC should not go swimming or even take baths any more. He seems to be fine with this now, but who knows how he will react once we are there. On the plus side, DC does not have as much interest in swimming as he used to, so I am hoping it will still be “fine” with him once we are in the warmer weather.
I am also reminded of an airport incident back October 2014. I was angry that the TSA Agents frightened and upset DC. I was more angry that they did not treat him as a human being. After writing the post below and thinking about the situation some more, my anger turned to fear about what COULD have happened.
DC is not aggressive, he never has been… but we never know what someone will do when frightened. DC is terrified of dogs. When a dog he does not know (even a dog he does know) comes at him as dogs often do – his first instinct is to run or hide behind me. His next instinct is to kick. He is not being aggressive or trying to hurt the dog, he is just frightened and wants the dog to go away. It is instinct. It is a reaction, plain and simple.
Having this agent grab him and search him as he did frightened him into the closest thing we’ve had to an actual meltdown in years. I really thought he was heading for one. It took awhile but he was able to get himself together. What if DC, in his frightened state, kicked him or hit him? What if he tried to run away? What would have happened?
If these people saw fit to treat him this way, KNOWING he is autistic, I am terrified to think of what they would have done if he lashed out at them. I would like to say that I don’t want to think about it, and I really don’t want to think about it, but I have to – of course I have to……..
The more stories and news reports I hear and read, the more fearful I become.
From October 2014 is an excerpt of that post:
Off we go….. (almost)
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