Children with disabilities and their families practice air travel at CCIA

Posted at 4:06 PM, May 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-26 17:06:36-04

Getting through airport security on any given day, can be a daunting task. However traveling with an autistic child, or a child with disabilities, could prove challenging for any parent too.

That’s why the Corpus Christi International Airport partnered with the Center for Autism and Related Diseases (CARD) to prepare children and their families to fly on a plane.

On Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the airport opened its doors for a rehearsal of sorts.

Cecilia Tapia, a clinical supervisor and behavior analyst at CARD, says because many people will be traveling this summer season, now was an ideal time to have a run-through with the children and their families.

"Our hope is that by doing an event like this today, we might be able to decrease some of that anxiety from the families and really get a good run-through to see what can we expect," Tapia said.

Children and their families began at the ticket counter, worked their way through the TSA security, then spent some time in the gate area. Their last stop was boarding the plane.

Amy Brown, a parent at Saturday’s run-through, has a 12-year-old son with cerebral palsy and a cognitive disability. Her son, Dash, uses an iPad to speak. Recently, he has been pushing one button in particular – a picture of a plane – and when pushed, says ‘I want to fly.’ 

But as a parent, Brown says not knowing what to expect can prove challenging when the family considers traveling.

"So we’ve always been a little bit worried about flying," Brown said. "Because we didn’t know how he would handle the long lines, the security," she added.

However after today’s practice run, Brown feels confident about their family’s trip to Armenia this summer.

"We’ll know what to expect. He’ll know what to expect," Brown said. "So that’s really what’s important – is to make him comfortable and help us know how to handle the situation."

Another tip learned today, is parents of children with a disability can request the help of TSA at any time when in an airport.