TOWN OF MAINE (WBNG) – Traveling can be nerve-wracking for anyone, and Saturday, ACHIEVE, calmed those nerves down a bit, hosting the Wings for All event which gives passengers of all ages with autism spectrum disorder education on airline travel.
ACHIEVE partnered with the Greater Binghamton Regional Airport and Delta Airlines to put on the educational simulation.
Company vice president of Development and Donor Relations Preston Evans said this was the first time this event had come to the area, but that the practice of airline procedures for those dealing with autism is important.
“It’s supposed to alleviate some of the anxiety that might come with someone with a disability,” Evans said. “A situation like this where you can actually see it first-hand an kind of experience, it allows you to better anticipate how to move forward when you want to actually travel: checking in, going through security, getting on, boarding the plane, going through the announcements. It’s pretty much everything but leave the terminal.”
In attendance was Laurie Laird, along with her son, Alan, who has autism. Her family is preparing for a trip to Disney World next October, stressing the importance of a program like Wings for All.
“I really wanted him to go through the process and not give in to him freaking out on the airplane,” Laird said. “With autistic kids, anything for the first time is usually very difficult. Now that he’s done it, maybe it’ll be familiar to him.”
Broome County Executive Jason Garnar attended the event as well, and from it, he is hoping to continue the county’s push for a more inclusive environment.
“We’ve started a movement called ‘Broome Includes,’ where we’re trying to make Broome County in every way, shape possible more inclusive for people with different abilities,” Garnar said.
But while the goal of the program is to inform about airline procedures, Evans sees a huge growing step in the way its done.
“Everybody wants to be independent and this really does allow people to foster that independence by being able to not be confined to local travel, to be able to fly across the country if you want to,” Evans said.
CEO of ACHIEVE Amy Howard told 12 News she is interested in the airport opening up a sensory room for passengers to have an area they can feel comfortable in.