Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A teen with autism kicked off a plane and people just don't get it


Among the reactions I've had to the viral story of United Airlines kicking a teen with autism off a plane, my strongest one has been this: People just don't get autism. And I'm not only talking about the flight crew's reaction to the situation.

The gist of the story is that Donna Beegle, Ed.D. (an accomplished anti-poverty advocate) and her 15-year-old, Juliette, along with her husband and son, were en route home to Portland after a Disney World vacation. Juliette didn't have dinner before boarding the connecting flight in Houston, and although Donna brought snacks, Juliette didn't want them. So Donna asked a flight attendant if she could purchase a hot meal from the stash in first class, noting that her daughter could have a meltdown involving scratching in frustration. Another passenger on the flight has said that Juliette had been "howling."

After some back and forth, Juliette eventually got rice and jambalaya, calmed down and watched a video. Then came the announcement that the plane was making an emergency landing in Salt Lake City. Soon after, the family was escorted off the plane by police. Donna Beegle is planning to sue United Airlines. In taking her story public, she's said, she hopes that airlines will start training flight crews to better handle passengers with autism.

United Airlines issued this statement: "After working to accommodate Dr. Beegle and her daughter during the flight, the crew made the best decision for the safety and comfort of all our customers and elected to divert to Salt Lake City after the situation became disruptive. We rebooked the customers on a different carrier and the flight continued to Portland."

So there's that. And then there have been social media reactions that make you despair about how little people know about autism—or kids with special needs in general—and the startling lack of compassion out there.

People want to know why the mom didn't bring hot food or a meal in the first place. True, you typically can grab something in the terminal but that didn't happen. As Donna said, "I had no real way to bring hot snacks in my bag." Perhaps it was a fail on Donna's part. Either way, she doesn't deserve to be attacked. You can bet she never imagined the plane would end up making an emergency landing as a result. We are parents of the human variety; we aren't perfect, and we do what we can to handle imperfect situations.

As to why Juliette did not down some food with the family before she came onboard, well, maybe she wasn't hungry then. Or maybe she was tired from traveling—the family had earlier been on another flight. No matter how the situation came to pass, though, the reality was this: Juliette needed to get some hot food in her. And the mom asked for some. Is that so out of line? So terrible? So wrong? Would the social media mafia have reacted with such outrage to a request for a hot meal if, say, it came from the parent of an out-of-control toddler without special needs?

People just didn't seem to understand why a hot meal was so critical—or how this mom could have had the gall to ask to buy one, given that she was in coach seats. They have no clue about the texture preferences that kids with autism (and other special needs) can have. A teen who can only be satisfied by a hot meal? Yes, it happens. It's not about entitlement. It's about sensory issues and, as can happen, rigid ways of behaving that give a person with autism comfort.

People pointed out that Donna told the flight attendant that her child would throw a fit, with scratching involved (although she didn't say that she'd scratch others). Please felt that the captain had every right to be concerned that the girl could be a threat to other passengers. Who knows why, exactly, the captain decided an emergency landing was necessary. But I do know from experience that when you're on a flight and your child is on the verge of losing it, you will do anything and everything to keep the peace. If this mother sounded desperate or frustrated as she spoke with the flight attendant about the situation, and when she warned that a meltdown and scratching could ensue, she was expressing genuine urgency.

People noted that it wasn't the flight attendant's job to parent a child. True. But that wasn't what Donna Beegle requested. She simply asked for some hot food. See: Is that so out of line? So terrible? So wrong?

People said that Donna acted as if her daughter were the only passenger on the plane in making her "demands." Even parents of kids with autism called her on that. While Donna surely wanted to pacify Juliette, she likely was also eager to avoid annoying people sitting nearby. The intolerance from fellow passengers when a child with special needs loses it can be sky high. I'm sure Donna is no stranger to that.

Yet other commenters noted that the parents needed to learn how to better parent. As if the behavior of a teen with autism has anything to do with crappy parenting. You'd think that sort of misguided old-think would be gone by now but, no.

And then, this comment: "Maybe they shouldn't fly if their daughter's autism is so bad that her needs can't be met on board a plane." THUD. That was the sound my jaw made when it dropped to my desk. It is both mind-boggling and sad to see people's blatant discrimination against those with autism, who have as much of a right to fly or generally lead their lives as any other human being. In fact, Juliette has flown to London, Paris and 22 states, without similar incident. Hopefully, her future travels won't be affected by lingering trauma.

People with autism can have issues connecting with others, that's true. In the aftermath of this incident, it's blatantly clear that a whole lot of people have issues connecting with people with autism, or their parents. Parents of children with autism aren't trying to get away with anything in these sorts of situations. Usually, they're just trying to get by. Requesting a hot meal isn't such a big deal. Enough with the questions about why this mom didn't BYO hot food or wasn't prepared. Here's the ask that people should be pondering: How about some empathy?

Image source: Flickr/Robert S. Donovan

62 comments:

  1. THANK YOU. I failed to see why asking for the hot meal was such a big deal. And, I certainly didn't feel sorry for the woman who complained about the howling - does that mean every crying baby, every vomiting passenger, every snorer, should be chastised? I've certainly heard plenty of those things on a plane. I would rather sit next to someone howling than someone coughing violently all over my space.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It pained me to hear this story, as this so easily could have been me with my son. We have only flown on JetBlue with him - an airline known to give back to the autism community with special "pretend rides" to ease those with autism into the idea of a real flight. (My son loved this event at JFK!) I only wish all the airlines had a similar project, and better yet, training. For now, I'll be boycotting United Airlines until they issue both an apology and a plan for the future on training their staff about special needs.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As to Donna Beegle's comment about not being able to bring hot food with her onto the plane---I send Addie's lunch to school with her everyday--a hot lunch in a thermos
    Planning ahead is important when you have a special child---Ms Beegle no doubt was exhausted after the Disney trip and just did not bother with the planning, figuring the flight attendants could take care of her--if she and her daughter had been sitting in first class I would have agreed with her
    A few years ago when Addie could still fly, either myself or a caregiver would sit in first class with her while the rest of the family traveled steerage--worked great--plenty of room--attentive personnel--because we were paying for it I never felt like we were taking advantage of anyone or the situation
    As for disruptive behavior on the plane--I do not like that at all--don't care who is causing the ruckus--plane tickets are expensive and flying these days is uncomfortable enough without other passengers being inconsiderate
    As for flying with Addie now---we don't do it anymore---too much stuff to schlep and her behavior can be very unpredictable---last time we flew Addie needed to be sedated mid flight as she would not stop screaming---several passengers approached me and my husband afterwards, thanking us for being prepared and dealing with the behavior promptly
    Addie now stays home with a caregiver and the rest of the family gets a real vacation, still traveling in steerage though

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am concerned about the assumption you are making--that Ms. Beegle "just did not bother" with planning. Finding and storing a hot meal when you are not at home to prepare it could be quite a challenge.

      Delete
    2. Yes, quite a challenge--cup of soup, oatmeal or macaroni and cheese which can be heated in the microwave after adding a little water and is available at any Walgreens or CVS

      Delete
    3. No, actually, it's not.

      1. Purchase pre-packaged, dry single-serving prepared food your child will eat, e.g. Cup o Noodles soup, Easy Mac N Cheese, etc.
      2. Place in carry on luggage
      3. If your child is hungry when the plane reaches cruising altitude, ask the steward/ess to add hot water to the cup o pre-packaged food.

      Cup o Soup -- 99 cents
      Hot water from steward/ess -- free
      Flying w/autistic kid w/o need for emergency landing -- priceless

      Delete
    4. That last line is just mean.

      Delete
  4. This is just really sad...what happened to compassion for others, it doesnt matter if they have special needs or not. really some people just don't get it...

    ReplyDelete
  5. As an autistic traveler myself, I find this infuriating. Having recently been stuck on a bus with six people vomiting forcefully (from norovirus, I think) over the course of 10 hours (To give you a reference point as to how much I hated that trip, I'm emetophobic and run away from one vomiting incident if I have the chance.) Neither the band director nor the bus driver complained about the vomiting students or the fact that the healthy were spraying a lot of key lime coconut perfume on a contaminated seat. We ran out of a large bottle of Pepto and had to stop for more. Considering how Juliette flew to other places with no incident, I blame the staff for this one. I think she should have gotten that hot meal. If it's going to prevent a meltdown, do it. There is a time and a place to make exceptions and this was that time and that place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Juliette didn't get kick off the plane for being autistic -- her mother's threatening the steward/ess is what resulted in the emergency landing.

      "Give my kid in coach a first class hot meal or she might just physically assault someone" at 35,000 feet is absolutely a threat.

      Dr. Beegle says she's flown with her daughter 22+!times -- so she's absolutely aware that food isn't always available on planes and that folks in coach aren't allowed to purchase first-class hot meals.

      This mess could've been avoided by either teaching Juliette to behave in a non-feral manner (she's 15, the world does not end if she's a bit hungry) or packing a pre-packaged, dry "hot meal" in the carry on, eg "cup o ramen", "cup o easy mac" + hot water from steward/ess mid-flight could've avoided this whole mess.

      --
      Your comparison is off -- the folks on your band bus were *physically ill*, ie not a security threat. Totally different than Dr. Beegle's debacle.

      Delete
    2. The vomiting was a threat to students' physical health. I think they could have been transported home by other means, but they came home on the bus anyway. The perfume might have given someone a headache. (Perfume+vomit=horrible) Her mother offered to pay (as in fork over a portion of her hard-earned money) for the meal. As for the way her mother worded her request, she may have wanted to word it differently. I don't know the tone of her voice or her exact words, but it may sounded like a threat. Airline staff are hypervigilant and trained to think anything that sounds like a threat is.

      Delete
  6. Its so disappointing to see humans without compassion! And I applaud that mom for traveling all over with her daughter. It often takes such architecting, perserverance and a great amount of knowledge and education on a parents part to cope with a child Autism-let alone travelling and helping them to be apart of new experiences. So, whatever happened before hand-before the plane people are so quick to judge what should have been done. This wasn't a case of abuse on the parents part.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow. This is so sad. Does my family know the 14 steps we should take to ensure my sister doesn't have a meltdown at Walmart? Sure. Do we always have the time or energy to remember them? Unfortunately no. Is she liable to have a tantrum even if we do everything perfectly? Yes. It's true--people just don't understand.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Would the social media mafia have reacted with such outrage to a request for a hot meal if, say, it came from the parent of an out-of-control toddler without special needs?

    Are you kidding? Now you really have lost all perspective Ellen! Yes the social media would have had a hay day if parents of an out of control toddler had said essentially, "get my kid a hot meal or they are going to start scratching other people"


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. especially when hot food is available at the airport and could have been purchased prior to the flight by the parent

      Delete
    2. She might not have had time.

      Delete
    3. The family had time to eat dinner, so that's not the issue here.

      Delete
    4. excuses, excuses
      if your kid melts down when they don't have hot food you MAKE time to get something for them

      Delete
    5. Sandra, perhaps there was a mistake made on the mom's part, I have no idea. But she does does not deserve to be attacked for what happened. Anonymous, I doubt the media would not have had a heyday were this a typical child having a meltdown and the mom asked for hot food to appease him (especially since no plane would have made an emergency landing in that case).

      Delete
    6. Wrong wrong wrong. Planes have turned back based on tantruming toddlers. Google " family kicked off plane toddler". K

      You simply cannot tell a flight crew "do x or me or my child will gave a fit". A plane will very likely name an emergency landing in that instance.

      Delete
    7. Here's one of the type of comments in response to the typical toddler who was having a fit being kicked off the flight : "It should be mandatory to sedate all children under the age of 8, for the peace and well being of the rest of the flying public."

      Sigh....your claim that this would be diffferent if it involved a non disable child is simply incorrect.

      Delete
  9. I can see both sides of this. You're already explained the parent's quite nicely. However, flight crew are in an industry where they are essentially trained to overreact. Even something that vaguely sounds like a threat can warrant a landing. It kind of sounds like everyone messed up and it created the perfect storm, so to speak. Except for the poor kid this centres around in the first place.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have to disagree with you on two points here. If this had been a toddler the airline not have provided any foodAlso, I don't think the airline made an emergency landing out of lack of compassion. The mom admitted that their child could be a threat is she didn't eat. If the child had hurt someone after the airline had that knowledge then they could be sued. Honestly, the airline was between a rock and a hard place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wasn't talking about any lack of compassion on the airline's part—I was addressing the comments I saw on social media.

      Delete
  11. When pilots are given information about a passenger that is behaving strangely or is upset, in this case likely the mother and not the person with autism, they have rules they follow. I am an autism mom too. I do "get it" and I do have compassion for the child. I also have some common sense and some compassion for a pilot trying to keep his passengers safe. I have compassion for the flight attendant who had to jump through hoops. Sometimes kids with autism meltdown, even at home on our watch because we can't figure out what they think they need or because we do not have what they think the need. Juliette was not going to starve or go into a coma. She was going to meltdown and perhaps scratch. This whole thing has been blown way out of proportion. It was blown out of proportion by the mother when she made demands that were unreasonable. It was blown out of proportion by the pilot when he landed the plane. It is being blown out of proportion by the autism community now as well. This is NOT a good way to raise awareness. People who do not understand autism are only now looking at us and thinking we are ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Asking for some hot food to avoid having a teen melt down (and disturb other passengers in the process) is "unreasonable"? Wow. You have some pretty tough standards there.

      Delete
    2. The way the mom phrased her "request" at 35,000 feet is what resulted in the family's removal from that plane -- telling the flight attendant that if she doesn't do your bidding, your adult-sized 15 year old might hit or scratch others is simply unwise.

      Hot food isn't always available, the logistics of heating food on a plane is logistically complicated (or so says a flight attendant friend) and requesting hot food in coach when none is available for sale is unreasonable. The mother noted she had traveled 20+ times with daughter, she is likely well aware of these facts.

      This family chose to fly coach and by doing so accepted the conditions of carriage. If hot food is so critical to their child's well-being, they should consider flying business or first class next time.

      Delete
  12. I am with you on just about everything you have said. I have a different concern that may be entirely personal, but I feel very strongly. I think it's really crossing a line when a parent speaks about a disabled child in a negaitve way to other people, especially when the child is right there to hear. I understand Dr. Beegle's frustration, but she fed into stereotypes of autism by saying her Juliette would lose it. I agree the airline staff went overboard in response. I think they have a good case for discrimination. But I really think it should be a high priority for parents not to tell people how awful their kids are / will be in order to get things they want or need. While I don't know how Juliette took it, she most likely heard her mother say to a stranger that she'd flip out if they didn't get what they were asking for. I'm sorry, but that thought gives me chills. Disabled children are people. They listen. They hear. They process what people say about them, especially their parents.

    Again, the whole culture of airline security and treatment of disabled people is another serious matter, but it's not the one that struck me when I read this story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My daughter was well treated when she flew but we were flying first class
      You get what you pay for--there was always a meal served and we were not rushed
      Coach class on planes today is merely a way of getting from one place to another safely (you hope)--there are no amenities
      It is unfortunate this happened to the Beegle family but it could have been avoided or made a lot less onerous if the parents had picked up some chicken tenders or a burger in a carryout container just in case the young lady became peckish, particularly in light of the fact that she was reported to have not eaten dinner

      Delete
    2. Maybe so. I tend to support the idea that the parents couldn't have totally predicted and totally prepared for every possibility. As it turned out, they DID provide a hot meal in the end ... they just resisted and resisted, and then did the whole plane diversion thing without any real warning. Not good. My objection to the parents was only the mother basically speaking ill of her daughter in front of others, while also reinforcing the worst stereotypes of autism.

      Delete
    3. Andrew, I see your point. However, I don't think this mother was speaking ill of her daughter, per se. She was noting facts about her behavior: Juliette tends to melt down when hungry, get frustrated and scratch (I believe she meant she could scratch herself). This would not come as a surprise to Juliette. I agree it is ideal for individuals with special needs to speak up for themselves, but it seems like Juliette might not be able to do that sort of thing.

      Delete
    4. I wasn't suggesting Juliette speak for herself. That would be best as you say, but I wasn't criticizing that aspect. Still, you may be right about that in this case. Maybe her mother's description wasn't as inflammatory as it sounded to me.

      I'm really glad you wrote about this. So many of the responses I've seen to the story are frustrating, it's good to see other people speak up, who have a clearer understanding of what reasonable accommodation means. You don't get everything you want, sometimes not even what you need, but you should get what can be given.

      Delete
  13. It's such a shame that this whole mess could have been avoided if the parents would have brought along a thermal bag of food. Honestly, if you know your child will only eat hot food, why wouldn't this be your first priority? Or call ahead to the airline to see if arrangements can made. Shaking my head at this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. Thank you for suggesting something really helpful to autism moms as well....

      Delete
  14. I don't think the needs of one child supercede the comfort and needs of 300 people on a plane. This is my gripe with accommodations; that one person's needs take precedent over everyone else. It's not right. Participation is one thing, and a right, but not at the expense of everyone else. I don't think a whole plane needs to witness a 15 year old's scratching and meltdown, when they have all paid big bucks for an airline seat. It isn't fair.

    And this mom should have brought food if she thought her kid would melt down. That is her fault entirely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But Anonymous, the "comfort and needs of 300 people" would have been much more easily accommodated if the airline staff had agreed to the mom's request. The 300 other people on the plane were inconvenienced by the emergency stop because the staff DID NOT agree to her request! The entire flight would have gone much more smoothly for EVERYONE if the staff had been more accommodating. The poor people who were forced to witness the girl's "scratching and meltdown" would not have HAD to witness it if the airline had been more understanding. Greater empathy, kindness, and accommodation make everyone's lives better. It's not a question of fairness; it's a question of making allowances for those who need extra help. The inconvenience and upset were caused by NOT doing that. Period.

      Delete
    2. Let's follow your reasoning through to its logical conclusion: Suppose we both end up on the same flight of 300 people on a plane. You start having a heart attack. You need CPR, as in like right now, and I'm the only person on board that knows how to perform it, but I tell you, "I'm sorry Mr. Anonymous Dude, but I can't give you CPR even though you need it unless I give every other passenger on board CPR because it wouldn't be fair to them."

      It's not about "the needs of the 300 other people on the plane." They're not the ones having a heart attack.

      "Fair" does not mean "treat everyone the same", "fair" means "everyone gets what he or she NEEDS."

      The inconvenience and stress to the other 300 people aboard that plane could have been easily avoided entirely by the simple, common sense accommodation of a warmed up plate of crappy-tasting airplane food instead of arguing with the mother over this minor deviation from "policy" that her request to purchase hot food posed (the extra time spent haggling probably amped the autistic teen's anxiety levels and contributed to her meltdown).

      With all the restrictions on liquids, including foodstuffs, imposed on commercial flying travelers, it's not like the good old days pre-9/11 where you can just bring a thermos with piping hot food in it for consumption in mid-flight.

      Which is why I would never travel by plane if I can help it because airplane food is unfit for livestock anyway, and anything I make at home is better than what they serve on Amtrak—which has MUCH better hot food in their dining cars than what's available even to first class plane customers. Just sayin'.

      Delete
  15. The lack of empathy saddens me too...I'm sure both parents in this situation regretted not having brought hot food onto the plane for their daughter. Can't we cut them some slack? Don't we all screw up sometimes? It seems to me like the pilots/airline grossly overreacted to the situation and put Juliette and her family in a terrible position. I don't fly often because I can't afford it, but I don't think that buying an airline ticket makes you a diva princess whose virgin ears can't deign to hear a crying child or upset teen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Can't we cut them slack" and "don't we all screw up sometimes" = that's it, exactly. Nobody except the flight crew and United know exactly why the pilot did an emergency landing, perhaps there was some regulation involved, perhaps the flight attendant made the situation out to be worse than it was, maybe it was just a personal judgment call.

      Delete
  16. If you want your SN child to travel by plane (which per se should be encouraged), you should avoid obvious mistakes, such as no hot food and a hungry kid with sensory issues AND scaring those responsible for security on board with threats of violent meltdowns. Seriously, if hot food is so important for your kid, how can you possibly forget it? Who travels with a baby and no baby formula? There are priorities. On the other hand, passengers should be tolerant of howling and screaming, just as they are (most likely) of crying babies. And crew should be understanding and common sense driven, but you cannot expect them to be trained to deal with every condition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I completely agree with you! And I'm a parent of a special needs child.

      Delete
  17. I don't think that people are stating that the parents were parenting badly because their autistic child might have a meltdown. I think they are stating that the parents made a pretty large error knowing that their child would have a meltdown without hot food and didn't do anything about it and then expected the airline to accommodate for their lack of planning. If I didn't bring baby formula and my baby had a meltdown, would you think that was bad parenting?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are imperfect people living out lives in an imperfect world. The least we, as human beings, can do is reach out to others and assist them no matter the reason they need it.

      Delete
    2. Perfectly stated !

      Delete
    3. Yes, Anna, well said. And Anonymous, I did read comments about bad parenting. And no, I wouldn't think it was "bad parenting" if a parent didn't have baby formula because that's not how I think. This post was about comments I've seen in social media, I guess that wasn't clear to you.

      Delete
  18. We live in a society where an autistic kid's potential meltdown is treated as equivalent to a potential terrorist attack. Where asking for--GASP--a hot meal on an airline flight (asking TO PAY FOR ONE, mind you, not to be GIVEN one) is treated by people, even the people who read this very blog, as over the top and bad parenting. Look at what we accept nowadays. Fifteen years ago? This does not happen. Because the kid is given a hot meal on the flight anyway. Because the flight attendants are actually expected to ATTEND TO THE NEEDS of people on the flight. It terrifies me what we now see as acceptable ways to treat other human beings, special needs or no.

    Ellen: YES YES YES to every word of this.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Here is a much more encouraging story!

    http://wkrn.com/2015/05/11/man-with-down-syndrome-opening-coffee-shop-in-niagara-falls/

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have a special needs child who has several autistic friends as well as an autistic niece. I think an open discussion is needed yet not shaming the family nor suing the airlines. Please take into account that the flight attendants are human beings also that are trying the best they can. The flight attendants are also moms, dads. sisters…..that have the responsibility to care for and keep safe large numbers. We need to take into account all the safety regulations and procedures that have been put into place because of Sept.11th.
    We can not have it both ways: protect us or we'll sue, don't protect us or we'll sue. Inform the airlines of our Special Needs Child in advance, response has been, "no, I shouldn't have to let others know of my child's disability, its private" then come back at the airline employees with "well when my child has a fit, its on you". Let's use this incident to help, teach and most importantly, Listen. That's right, we as Special Needs parents need to listen to the people that we are accusing "don't understand". Work together, not rip apart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I'm a stewardess myself. But Amy if my son was discriminated against, I would sue Delta (I work for them). I would never hesitate either. United have a terrible track record anyway.

      Delete
    2. Yeah I'm a stewardess myself. But Amy if my son was discriminated against, I would sue Delta (I work for them). I would never hesitate either. United have a terrible track record anyway.

      Delete
  21. The mother neglected to plan ahead and now she plans to SUE THE AIRLINES. Please! How many hot meals is a plane supposed to carry? If the young girl received hot food, you better believe that someone in first class or business class, or one of the crew, went without food during that flight. Please don't rationalize this situation just because it involves someone with special needs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well there's something I hadn't thought of.

      Delete
    2. Airlines keep extra meals. If a diabetic passenger lost track of eating and insulin intake a meal would be available to help revive them without question.

      Delete
    3. Lack of food for a diabetic can be fatal.

      Letting an autistic kid get a bit hungry? Is NOT potentially fatal.

      And I seriously question the parenting skills of any parent who couldn't be bothered to each their 15 yo (!) to handle being a bit hungry without physically assaulting anybody!

      Delete
    4. Kate, I hope if a loved one or friend has a child with a neurological disorder that you show kindness, love, and compassion toward the child and family. The comment regarding meals was that airlines always carry extra meals and no one in first class will go without

      Delete
  22. As an autism mom, I can testify that it is not possible to be prepared for everything that may or may not occur. When traveling, it is not easy to carry around Ready To Eat Meals, sometimes my son wants the food that other people have due to the aroma. He doesn't always want to eat when it is convenient for the family. I know I have annoyed his cousins for asking them to hand over the last variety box of Corn Pops just to get thru to the next stop, or begged them to let him have the label off of the soft drink bottle they are drinking from because he became obsessed with the design. It's not because I want to give in to his every indulgence or demand, it just makes things go smoother while in closed quarters such as a car; smoother for those of you around us (yes, I am actually thinking of you when I am asking for assistance). Taking care of a melt down is easier in private, we can get thru it in public if we have to, but inevitably people stare, take video and judge and siblings, cousins and Aunts and Uncles get embarrassed . There are those of us "in the know" who tell the uncaring to "move along, nothing to see here" and will stay a comfortable distance until it's over and check on the parent with a caring voice; but we are few and far between. My son is 18 now, still non verbal with behavioral issues; medication helps EASE anxiety but it's still near by, behaviors do not disappear completely (although they are less severe). Yes, when I'm asking for food quickly I may sound angry or aggravated, but not with you person I'm asking for help from. I just know what may happen and that will cause a scene that most people are unfamiliar with and "feel" unsafe. The parent is the one that takes the brunt of the behavior, I've been bitten to the point of blood being drawn, had concussions to the brink of unconciousness , and the only thought on my mind during this time is to keep my child safe from himself and strangers. I don't ask for anything free and if it seems like I'm asking for EXTRA accommodations, well I can't change your mind set, that's you to deal with.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I don't blame the mom for not having the hot food - things happen.

    I do blame the mom for making a statement that could easily be (and apparently was) interpreted as a threat. And I do blame the mom for expecting someone in first class to give up their meal so that her daughter could have a hot meal.

    I think a lesson for all of us in this is that if we know our child may need special accommodations in-flight, we request those in advance so that the airline can be prepared.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am the mom of a child with Autism and we had a pretty traumatic flight during Christmas when flying from Texas to Indiana. Despite my best attempts, I wasn't able to soothe my sensory seeking little boy. I came prepared with all of his favorite things - iPad with his favorite show, water and juice, his favorite snacks, blocks, paci, and a few of his other favorite things. Even though he didn't cry the whole flight, he did have a meltdown that I wasn't able to soothe. MANY families asked the flight attendants to kick us off the plane (some even told us to our faces). I think I was in more tears than my son was. We are flying to Indiana again in a few weeks and I've been sick with anxiety already!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hugs to you and your family. I hope someone with compassion and understanding sits nearby and gives you that knowing look that everything will be fine, or better yet, gives you a verbal acknowledgement that you are a good mom and your child is a good kid. As a fellow mom with a child with Autism, I can assure you there are more people for us than against and I hope those people stand up and be heard as an advocate for our collective families. You will get through it.

    ReplyDelete
  26. And this is why I decided to work for Delta because they trump United in terms of customer service. I don't understand why she booked a flight with United in the first place. Sorry I'm biased as I'm employed by Delta.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for sharing!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...