What in the World is Going On?
December 2016 Edition
By Maureen Bennie
Autism Calgary Community
The Big Trip – On the Move with ASD
My son, Marc, and I took our very first flight together this November. We did a 4 day trip to Montreal, Quebec. The trip was a great success but only because Marc was well prepared for the trip, therefore there was a high degree of predictability and comfort level which reduced anxiety. We have taken many road trips and stayed in hotels, but this was new territory travelling by plane. With holiday travel about to start for many families, I’d like to share some tips and ideas I gained from our airline travel experience.
Did you know that for travel within Canada both Air Canada and Westjet have a program that allows a companion to fly for free if your child is over the age of 18 and can’t fly independently? Each airline has a form that must be filled out and signed by your doctor. Once the airline has approved you, there is a code number given to you to use when booking a flight. This number is good for 3 years. You must have approval from the airlines before booking a flight as they won’t apply this status after a flight has been booked.
The Vancouver International Airport is the first airport in Canada to implement a program that provides an expedited airport process for families and individuals living with autism. The new YVR Autism Access Sticker, developed as part of the I CAN Fly program, a collaboration between YVR and the Canucks Autism Network (CAN), provides air travel resources to support individuals and families living with autism. Let’s hope more airports adopt this program.
How to Videos
You Tube is a treasure trove for finding “how to” instructional videos on virtually every aspect of airline travel. There are ones for using the bathroom, airport security, and the baggage claim carousel. Every airport has its own website. It can be helpful to visit an airport’s website to determine where you might eat, location of washrooms, airport layout and other information. My son likes to investigate all of these helpful tools ahead of time so that he knows what lies ahead. As a result, Marc had no anxiety in any new airports and was able to relax and watch the planes take off and land – one of his favorite things to do.
Marc also found it helpful to have a toy plane of the airline he was flying on in his hand . This gave him a full view and scope of the plane on a smaller scale, the chance to re-enact the flight process, and I would imagine a feeling of connection and control holding this object in his hands. He does have a small collection of planes (KLM, British Airways, Delta and Westjet); he brought all of these on board the flight.
Allow Extra Time
We made sure we arrived 2 hours before our flight to allow for extra time to check our bags, go through security, have a snack and get settled. There is nothing more stressful than getting into a time crunch and possibly missing your flight. We also did preboarding to allow extra time to get settled and not be in a huge line up with people standing close together in narrow aisles. We also waited to leave until everyone else had exited the plane.
What to Bring On Board
We brought our own snacks, a Rubbermaid drinking cup with a flip up straw to put liquids in as tight quarters can lead to spills, Marc’s mini-DVD player to watch his own programs, his favorite book, the toy planes, a couple of favorite cars from Disney’s Cars, wet wipes for spills and cleaning hands, headphones, and a change of clothes. By keeping all things familiar, Marc was comfortable and confident leaving home.
Marc’s greatest flying thrill was taking off and landing. He also loved hearing any type of announcement. Marc watched several You Tube videos of WestJet take offs and landings before he flew. He really was prepared for the flight experience!
What I have learned in planing this trip is a little bit of preparation goes a long way when trying new things. Creating predictability and lessening anxiety heightens the enjoyment of a new experience. I feel much braver now and think I can try and international trip with Marc. Bon voyage and happy holiday travels to everyone!
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Visit Autism Awareness Centre’s website at www.autismawareness.com for more great information.
The Autism Calgary Office will be closed December 19 – January 3
Family Support will be available by appointment only. Please call Tracy at 403-250-5033 ext. 222 to make an appointment.
Emails and phone messages left at info [at] autismcalgary [dot] com and on the general voice mail at 403-250-5033 ext 0 will be listened to and answered periodically during the 2 week closure.
From all of us at Autism Calgary, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!
YOU ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND:
TOWN HALL MEETING ON POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION FOR STUDENTS WITH ASD
at Autism Calgary 3639 26th Street NE map
Wednesday, November 16 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Autism Calgary will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting on post-secondary Education options for students with ASD. We will have a panel of parent and student volunteers who will be there to share their experiences and to answer questions.
We have finalized the panel. The volunteers will be representing the following post-secondary institutions:
- Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Program (IPSE) at Mount Royal University
- Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Program (IPSE) at U of C
- For Credit Program at U of C
- For Credit Program at Olds College
- Transitional Vocational Program (TVP) at Mount Royal University
Please register by clicking on the following button:
* Individual presentations may change without notice.
AUTISM CALGARY’s 25th Year will kick-off to a spectacular start with this year’s Christmas Party…
DATE: Saturday, November 26th
TIME: 5-7pm (Doors will open at 5pm SHARP)
LOCATION: 801 – 7th Ave SW map (CNOOC Nexen Building) Street Parking or C-Train access
Click here to register. You MUST be an Autism Calgary member and you MUST register to attend.
Activities include bouncy house, a real movie theatre, cookie decorating station, velcro wall, balloon twisting, Christmas ornament craft and much more!!
- Santa pictures will be available on the 2nd level at a cost of $10 (bring cash) per picture (includes a professional printed copy and frame! Digital file to be released early December).
- Santa will also be available on the first level for cameo photo’s (taken with your camera)
- Santa will not be handing out gifts, instead all children will receive a gift upon exiting
Snacks and drinks will be provided. (Please bring your own snacks if you have any dietary restrictions).
- You must sign up for the event to attend
- Bags will be checked by security upon entry (7th Ave side entrance)
- There will be an unmanned area for coats
We need volunteers to help from 4pm-7:30pm. Please volunteer by clicking here.
This event has been made possible by individual contributors and the building operator, Century West Management Inc.