Autism and Asperger Articles, Bill Stillman, Award-Winning Author

Demystifying Autism From The Inside Out

Airline Helpful Hints

by Kay Alina

I'm pretty sure I'm a high functioning Aspie and I'm 47 now so have learned how to accommodate my sensitivities for the most part. I still appreciate all the help I can get though and look forward to reading more in the archives of your website. Thanks for creating it.

I would like to know which airline was willing to listen to you out of the many. I am beginning to travel a bit more after quite a long hiatus. My son is seven now. We still fly annually but before he was born I was a 100,000 mile per year traveler the last two years and 50,000 annually for many years before.

What I learned along the way was to do my best to make flying a sensual experience. I still try to do that. Every sense I have I try to accommodate. I carry audio tapes/CDs of Prem Rawat because he is very calming to me. Probably the only person I can listen to for hours on end without becoming annoyed. We now have a DVD player so I can carry that on the next international flight and it will provide 4 hours of enjoyment of both watching and listening. I carry special socks in my bag, soft and comforting. I carry tiny aromatherapy bottles. Peppermint and tangerine/citrus are scents that awaken and there are other scents to help calm and induce sleep. Lavender, chamomile and vanilla are relaxing for me. It's easy enough to go to a health food store and sample sniff scents and find what works for you. I also carry a special eye mask that has cushioning and lavender herbs.

Basically, what I try to do is create a cocoon of sorts and satiate all my senses in the best way possible. Flying is now more invasive than ever and it irks me so that basic needs such as water are now limited or taken away. I always carried a liter bottle of water on a hanging shoulder strap but now I have been forced to dump it. Attendants have yet to bring enough water to satisfy my needs and getting up and down and walking by all the people is always stressful for me. I have work to do on that.

Although it may seem like a big leap I try to pretend I'm having a spa experience. Aromatherapy bottles sniffed help counteract the stink of some people, my ears are protected with reassuring reminders/guidance from a friend, my eyes can be covered, my feet are safe and protected and comfortable, and I just keep breathing. I try to keep my sense of humor when we are lined up like cattle and occasionally I moo to relieve my tension. It's easier to play pretend as I would if I were five years old than get stuck in the reality of the dehumanizing of it all.

I also carry food and cash. I didn't realize once until it was too late that $10 was required to eat on a flight. When the heck did that happen? Pre-ordering helps too. Fruit plate is hard to mess up and I can eat that regardless of the meal. Sometimes the smell of burnt flesh/meat makes me nauseous. Peppermint oil sniffed helps.

Once in awhile I might even feel comfortable enough to have a conversation. Rare though. People are not something I get very easily. Mostly they just confuse me and probably always will so I tend to focus on making myself happy and content and limiting contact when it is in cramped quarters.

Just wanted to send some suggestions on what I have done. I have little hope that the airline conglomerate is going to do anything to change (other than for the worse) so I try to create change through self-reliance.

Kay Alina is a full-time mom, homeschooling advocate, business owner, real estate investor, retired operating engineer.

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