Program hopes to help kids with autism fly easier

Fresno, Calif. - Little Preston is almost 1-year-old.

The baby's already logged three flights, thanks to his thoughtful mom, Michelle, who, each time, lugs several extra bags with her.

"The diaper bag, the bags for his clothes, all that stuff," Ambrosino- Weber said. "And then of course, you've got your car seat, if he's not a lap child, and then you have the stroller, and any other things.

"You have to normally plan ahead a lot longer than you would if you were just traveling as an adult."

Something parents of a child with autism would also understand.

To a child with autism, an airport, or any new experience, can be traumatic.

"Sights and sounds and smells can be overwhelming and over-stimulating for them," Fresno's "The Arc" Executive Director Lori Ramirez said.

But a program, "Wings for Autism" is changing that.

"It's going to be a day at the airport," Fresno Airport spokesperson Vikkie Calderon said. "They're not flying anywhere, they're not going anywhere."

The program actually walks the children through the process of checking in, waiting in line, going through TSA and even getting on board an airplane.

Directors with the California Autism Center say, practicing the flight could reduce challenging behaviors associated with the new situation.

Ramirez says, thousands across the country with autism or developmental disabilities, have gone through the event.

Now, Fresno, can take flight, too.

"Having this opportunity is just a great chance for them to see if they can get over some of the humps they might go through, some of the challenges, and then get on that plane, experience a great trip and maybe do it again and again," Ramirez said.

The event is a huge team effort, Skywest Airlines actually donated an aircraft to use for several hours for the event.

The May 13th date is full, 100 spots have been filled, but organizers say, you can still sign up for a waiting list.

They also hope this will be the first of many events.

Reporting in Fresno, Megan Rupe. 

To sign up for the waiting list, visit: http://www.thearc.org/what-we-do/programs-and-services/national-initiatives/wings-for-autism/what_programs-services_wings_events_fresno


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