How airlines are making travel easier for autistic passengers

How airlines are making travel easier for autistic passengers

A family looks out to the airport’s runway. Airlines are working to make air travel more accessible to neurodivergent travelers. Air travel can be stressful for anyone, but for neurodivergent travelers, there is an added layer of anxiety that comes with taking flight. Dora Raymaker, an autistic researcher who is the co-director of AASPIRE , a community-partnered research initiative centering on autistic adults, says neurodivergent people are often flagged by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents for suspicious behavior. It happens when others misinterpret behaviors such as differences in motor function or slow movement, lack of eye contact, and nonverbal tendencies. She describes neurodivergence as an invisible disability because it’s not always apparent to strangers that extra assistance is needed, especially while traveling. Raymaker says that challenges at the airport are just one example of the systemic issues neurodivergent travelers face, often rendering trips difficult or impossible for some autistic adults. Navigating airports can present overwhelming and time-consuming challenges for neurodivergent travelers. Raymaker speaks from experience. “[TSA] couldn’t process why I’d need accommodations if I wasn’t in a wheelchair, so finally, it was just easier to let them put me in [one] so I could get the services I needed,” […]

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