Airport event helps families affected by autism with air travel

The kids went through mock security, learned about moving sidewalks, and even went onto an airplane on Nov. 6, 2016.(WISH Photo/Laura Kennedy)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Traveling by air is often a challenge for those on the autism spectrum and, sometimes, families with autistic children never fly.

An event at the Indianapolis Airport Saturday helped those parents and kids not be afraid.

The event was called Soaring for Autism and it gave those families a chance to have a trial run at air travel, from check in to boarding.

Airports aren’t usual destinations for Eric Schronce’s son, Jonathan.

“He has never flown so this is a real learning opportunity for him,” Schronce said.

The airport environment is a challenge for the 9-year-old.

“My son Jonathan has autism so we are here to check out the airport, go through security, it’s kind of an important thing for him to see what that process is like,” Schronce said.

Saturday the Autism Society of Indiana partnered with the Indy airport and Delta to give kids like Jonathan a chance to take a trial run at flying.

“It basically is because we work so much with families and one of the things we always hear is we wish we could go somewhere but I’m really worried about what’s going to happen and what if he has behaviors?” Autism Society of Indiana Chief Executive, Ally Dana Renay said.

The kids went through mock security, learned about moving sidewalks, and even went onto an airplane.

“Any one of those things could cause problems for an individual on the spectrum,” she said.

Eric said taking out the unknown element of flying will set his son up for successful flights in the future.

That’s something he didn’t know would be possible before this experience.

“Jonathan does have an aunt and uncle that live in Florida and they take one of the nieces and nephews to Disney,” he said, “That year is coming for him, so this will be important just for him so he can take that trip.”

And the Autism society hopes to make this event recurring.

“Our hope is that we will be able to keep doing this at least a few times every year so families can participate,” Renay said.

This type of event has taken place at other airports in the country, but it was the first time for Indianapolis.