June 13, 2017, New York Times: At Airports, Making Travel Easier for Autistic Passengers, by Shivani Vora
For Gearoid Mannion and his wife, Michelle, who live in County Clare, Ireland, air travel with their two autistic sons, Conor, 9, and Darragh, 7, is usually nothing short of a nightmare. The noise level, crowds and announcements at airports overwhelm the boys, and waiting in security and boarding lines is a concept that they don’t understand, Mr. Mannion said. “They get red in the face and start running around and crying and screaming or run toward the exit, because they want to go back home,” he said.
... Mr. Mannion had heard about the airport’s recent initiative to ease the journey for individuals with autism spectrum disorder — the name for a group of developmental disorders that include autism — and called its customer service desk before their trip to relay that he would be traveling with autistic children.
Upon check-in, the foursome were given wristbands and orange baseball caps that identified them as a family with passengers with autism spectrum disorder and allowed them to jump to the front of the security line. Then they headed to the airport’s new Sensory Room, meant to soothe those with sensory issues, similar to those of Conor and Darragh; the room was shielded from outside noise and had a wavy wall, color-changing LED lights, bean bags and other items that kept them calm and happily occupied. And to avoid the challenge of waiting in a boarding line, the Mannions were able to board last. “Unlike the past, our trip was actually manageable,” Mr. Mannion said....
Part of the reason for this recent support may be the rise in autism spectrum disorder. In the United States alone, one in 68 children has autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the prevalence of autism in children increased 6 percent to 15 percent each year between 2002 and 2010.
Shannon Airport opened the sensory room and started the autism identification system, because autistic fliers were coming through the airport daily and having a hard time while they were there, said Nandi O’Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the airport. “We saw that people with autism would get agitated and wanted to make them and their families more comfortable,” she said.
I'm sure there are people out there who think that this is progressive. We're finally helping out all those with ASD, the most neglected disorder of all.
What it really does, besides making me furious, is to brainwash the public into thinking that we, as a society actually care about autism, and that this is the way to deal with a epidemic of sick kids.
Airlines and airports are not doing this for humanitarian and altruistic reasons. The Times lists the accommodations being made for autism. Reporter Vora writes, "Part of the reason for this recent support may be the rise in autism spectrum disorder." ???? (Seriously, this is the same paper that routinely announces that more kids don't really have autism, it's just better diagnosing/broader definition.)
Look at how the parents in the opening of the story describe the behavior of their sons, ages 7 and 9. 'They get red in the face and start running around and crying and screaming or run toward the exit, because they want to go back home.' If this is what autism is like, how come no one recognized it until about twenty-five years ago?
Actually, this is simple economics where the market meets the consumer's need, supply and demand stuff. With so many autistic kids out there, if airlines want the business from these families, they'll have to provide help. I'm sure every airport and airline will soon announce that they are "autism friendly" and proudly display their puzzle pieces.
Notice this is an article about flying with CHILDREN who have autism. (Evidently the one in 68 adults with autism stays home.) Shivani Vora casually tells us that one in 68 kids has autism, and "the prevalence of autism in children increased 6 percent to 15 percent each year between 2002 and 2010."
That's alarming. Here's how the Autism Society of America described it: "Prevalence of autism in U.S. children increased by 119.4 percent from 2000 (1 in 150) to 2010 (1 in 68). (CDC, 2014) Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability." (CDC, 2008)
Vora doesn't actually tell us the true increase in numbers between 2002 and 2010, nor does she tell us how the statistics have steadily mounted over the last twenty years
1995: 1 in 500, 2001: 1 in 250, 2004: 1 in 166, 2007: 1 in 150, 2009: 1 in 110, 2012: 1 in 88, 2014: 1 in 68, 2016: 1 in 68 (and don't forget the 1 in 45 rate announced in 2015, but that was explained as being based on a different survey system.)
Rates from more specific studies are even scarier: SOUTH CAROLINA: 1 in 28, 2017, MINNESOTA: 1 in 36, 2013, UTAH: 1 in 47, 2012, SOUTH KOREA, 1 in 38, 2011, MINNESOTA, 1 in 32 among Somali children, 2008.
These crazy numbers have become totally meaningless in what I call passive acceptance, no matter how bad the increase or how clueless officials are.
I don't know which is worse, the articles that deny ANY real increase in autism or the ones that offhandedly admit that the number are really going up, without a hint of real concern. Americans have been schooled by the media to accept the loss of a million children to a disorder that was practically unknown thirty years ago. We have a image of the autism puzzle piece indelibly printed on our understanding of autism. We don't demand or expect any answers. And in another 25 years, having autism will be as big a part of our lives as any other identity.
Name...... Age...... Sex...... Race...... On the spectrum (check one) Yes..... No.....
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.