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Program helps ease travel process for Islanders with autism

Erick Silva’s and his six-year-old son, Sebastian, were one of the 12 Island families to take part in the first Autism Aviators event held at the Charlottetown Airport. (Submitted photo)
Erick Silva’s and his six-year-old son, Sebastian, were one of the 12 Island families to take part in the first Autism Aviators event held at the Charlottetown Airport. (Submitted photo)

Islanders who are on the autism spectrum and their families got a first-hand look at airport processes this past weekend.

The Autism Aviators event Saturday gave participants a chance to experience checking in, security screening and waiting in the departure lounge.

The program was developed by the Halifax Stanfield International Airport and Autism Nova Scotia and helps to ease the travel process for people on the autism spectrum.

“Travelling sometimes just isn’t an option for families who have members on the autism spectrum, but a day like this can make the option a possibility again,” said Autism P.E.I. executive director Nathalie Walsh.

“Our hope … is that this event has given families the confidence to travel in the future.”

individuals with autism have different responses to sensory stimulation and dislike unfamiliar situations or breaks from their daily routine, it can present challenges when it comes to air travel.

Along with the mock travel day, resources developed by the Halifax airport and Autism N.S. are now available on the airport’s website for travelling families.

Organizers hope to offer the program on an annual basis so airport workers become familiar with the Autism Aviators logo and know to give special care to travelers with autism spectrum disorder.

To view the resources available, visit www.flypei.com/autismaviators.

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