Many families who have children with autism avoid flying because they are unsure how their children will respond. In an effort to ease the anxiety associated with an airport visit and flying, the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), Fraser and the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) have teamed up to create the Navigating Autism program. The program includes monthly events, all designed specifically for individuals with autism, that guide families through the steps of an airport visit, from walking in the door to finding their seats on a plane.
During the Navigating Autism event, families will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with airport and travel procedures. Children will practice entering the airport, obtain a security pass, go through screening at a TSA security checkpoint and walk through the airport to a boarding gate. To culminate their experience, children and their families will board an aircraft and find their seats. Please note that the aircraft will remain on the ground.
In addition to preparing families for a positive travel experience, the Navigating Autism program also will provide a valuable training and awareness opportunity for airport, airline and TSA personnel to learn how to accommodate children with autism and other special needs.
Families are invited to participate in any of the Navigating Autism event sessions, scheduled for the first Saturday of every month. Join MAC, Fraser and AuSM for a fun, safe practice run, while learning from airport personnel what works and what doesn't work to make your travel experience efficient and less stressful.
Our family had a wonderful time at the April 6, 2013 Navigating Autism event. We want to give special thanks to our wonderful volunteer guide, Kristina, and to the pilot.
At the end, when Kristina gave Finn his certificate, he was blown away, saying: "Wow! I just can't believe this! This is so amazing!" Then he told Kristina he had something special to tell her ... that she was going to be his new friend, and he gave her a giant hug. It was so cute. We can't thank the pilot and everyone enough for their kindness.
- Karen, Kirk and Finn Gridley
Navigating Autism Schedule
Please register for one session only as registering for multiple sessions and only participating in one will limit other families' abilities to participate. Sessions are popular and will fill quickly.
March 1, 2014
April 5, 2014
May 3, 2014
June 7, 2014
These events are being offered free of charge, and require pre-registration. Click on the button below to register for the session that fits with your schedule.
Click here for tips to help you prepare for your airport visit and trip (pdf). Information provided by Rich Kargel, Delta Airlines Pilot and father of a child with autism.
Click here to see the Going to the Airport Social Story, a tool to help your child prepare for his/her airport visit.
The MSP Airport has a special Traveler's Assistance Program that helps those with special needs. Information booths, located strategically throughout Terminal 1-Lindbergh, are staffed by hundreds of volunteers dedicated to providing quality information and services to thousands of travelers every day. Click here to learn more about this program.