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Wings on Autism Event
Posted on May 6, 2016, by GAPMP
Two metro area Parent Mentors attended the very first Wings for Autism event to be held in Atlanta at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on April 12, 2016.
This event was specifically designed to make the experience of
traveling by air less stressful for families and individuals with autism.
Individuals with autism are given a trial run of obtaining a boarding pass,
going through security, and boarding the plane.
The Doug Flutie Jr Foundation Inc sponsors the event and it was supported by the Arc of GA, with assistance from the Arc of Midlands, Atlanta
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport employees, Delta Air Lines, and TSA employees.
The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta provided arts and crafts opportunities
for the attendees.
Stacey Ramirez, a former parent mentor herself, currently serves as State Director for the Arc Georgia. She was one of the organizers of this event.
Gwinnett Parent Mentor, Jackie McNair, offered some perspective on the event:
Do you feel this was a successful event?
It was a brave undertaking and was a great success. The event was well
organized and things went smoothly.
Could you share a story from an experience you had at this event?
It warmed my heart to see so many volunteers and employees of the airport
there to assist the individuals. They seemed eager to help and served with
smiles and encouragement. I watched a tall gentleman offer his hand to a
small child, to help the mother get her through the airport and to the
airplane. He engaged with the child and spoke about wanting to give the
mother a rest.
As we were going through Security, there was an adult woman who was having
a difficult time walking through the security system. A security employee
was watching and seemed to be thinking hard about how to help. All of a
sudden, he suggested that the person with her hold her hands and walk her
through. It worked and she calmly walked through. After passing Security,
many walked on without shoes, which made me smile.
As we waited to board the plane, employees of the Center for Puppetry Arts
were happy to assist individuals with crafts. Snacks were available, which
was a plus.
The individuals attending had an opportunity to look inside the airplane’s
bathroom and cockpit. My daughter sat in the cockpit area for a picture,
as did many others. The pilots and stewardesses were very patient and
One of the pilots shared his story and offered tips of how he worked with
his young son, diagnosed with autism, to help him learn to enjoy traveling
How many parent mentors participated and please list so I can mention
Fayette County Parent Mentor Allison Stevenson volunteered with the Arc of GA, helping families find
their way to the boarding gate, as well as visiting families aboard the
plane and offering assistance. She even wore her parent mentor hat, as she
came to get me to speak with a family who has a young child in our school
district. Beside me and my daughter Kendra participating, Judith Steuber (a former Cobb County Parent Mentor who recently retired,) and her grandson Chris were in attendance. It was wonderful spending time with Judith again.
Can you speak to the way you integrated airport personnel and knowlegeable
parents in this event?
We shared the flyer about the event with families in our school district.
During the event, I spoke personally with airport employees, asking them
how they felt about participating in the event. They said it was a
blessing to be a part of it and they had enjoyed getting familiar with
those in attendance. I think it left them feeling better prepared to
assist individuals and families in the future.
Scroll down to see more information about this event.