Wings for All
One of our first concerns about planning our trip was the airplanes and airports. Our boys had never flown or even been in an airport, and we knew that preparing them for their first flight would require dedicated time and effort. After some research, I learned about the Wings for Autism/Wings for All program sponsored by The Arc and The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, Inc. Wings for All is an airport “rehearsal” for people with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual and developmental disabilities.
So one Saturday morning in April, our family did Wings for All and it was fantastic. The boys learned about and practiced checking in at the ticket counter, checking luggage, going through TSA screening, riding the AeroTrain and shuttles, waiting at the gate, boarding the plane, stowing luggage overhead, safety procedures, takeoff and landing, and exiting the plane. United Airlines worked with our group that day, and they even arranged for a virtual “take off” and “landing”. The plane never left the gate, but the crew played a soundtrack of plane noises to simulate the engines, and the pilot and flight attendants made all of the typical announcements that you expect on a flight. Afterward, the boys were able to visit the cockpit and get their photos taken in the pilot seat.
The program was wonderful for our family, and I give kudos to the team that organized and ran it. Because of their positive experience at Wings for All, the boys became excited about their first flight, and they were ready to fly when we arrived at Dulles to catch our plane to California.
First Flight Through Their Eyes
The boys had a couple months to practice using their iPod Touch cameras before we began our trip, and they started recording the experience as soon as we arrived at the airport. They had practiced making time-lapse photos at home, and our 13-year-old son tried out his new skills on takeoff and landing shots. Time-lapse shows change over time, and can be used in a variety of settings to demonstrate gradual change or emphasize activity. The time-lapse technique is effective in these examples because the plane is moving very fast, and the movie emphasizes the speed.
They photographed the entire airport and plane experience…
…including the snacks…
…and the escalators. They loved making videos on the escalators. This image is a screenshot from a video that they made during our layover in Denver. He put the iPod on a mini tripod and set it on a step, then let it ride down the escalator while filming. No iPods, people, or snack crackers were injured in making this video.
They were very excited when we flew over the Grand Canyon.
After we arrived in Los Angeles and picked up our rental car, we headed to Randy’s Donuts for a tasty treat. All of our boys gave the donuts–and their first flight–big thumbs up and said it was a great way to start our adventure.[Disclosure: All blog posts are written by Andrea. Blog posts are neither sponsored nor endorsed by the respective companies of any service, hardware, or software mentioned. This blog earns a small commission through display ads.]