TSA Cares program helps disabled travelers

Of the many horror stories that I see on social media about traveling with a disability, the ones that usually scare me the most relate to getting kicked off of an airplane or having a terrible time at security. So, to assist passengers with disabilities or special healthcare concerns, the TSA has created a program called TSA Cares that allows you to call in 48 hours prior to check-in and request assistance getting through security.

I called TSA Cares yesterday (1-855-787-2227) at their Kentucky-based offices and spoke with an incredibly helpful young man about how I could get through the TSA security lines with my son with the least amount of worry. He told me that at any time, you can request “going to the front of the line” with a person with a disability. Make this request to the TSA supervisor at the airport you are using. Ask if there is a Persons With Disability (PWD) line that you can utilize. At some airports, they will direct you to the TSA fast pass lane. TSA did not require this, but I also always travel with my son’s doctor’s diagnosis letter with me along with passports and IDs. Since autism is an invisible disability, I like to have all of my paperwork handy so that there is no confusion about the need for accommodations.

And if you are inclined to complain that people with autism should have to wait in line like everyone else, that’s like holding a grudge that those with physical disabilities get the best parking spaces. P–u–leez. Give me a break.

It’s really really hard to travel with autism and every effort should be made to be inclusive and helpful to those traveling with challenges. We all want to experience life, and travel is a part of life.

My next phone call is to the Vancouver Airport to see what kinds of accommodations are available for autism as we make our way for the first time through customs and immigration. Wish us luck.

And Travel Well.

 

All I want for Christmas is a passport

Traveling with our son is pretty complicated. We have to write social stories, pack all of his food for his autism diet, and troubleshoot as much as we can with the condo we’re renting, to make sure that there will be no obvious problems for our son’s sensory issues.

We have gotten very used to doing lots of homework, preparation and mental jujitsu to manage our son’s anxiety when we leave our house. Each and every time is a challenge.

But, oh, so worth it.

Whenever our son has a new experience, he adds it to his creative world. And we are enriched from it. He speaks rarely, but when he does, it revolves around where we’ve been and where he wants to go.

When he was asked what he wanted for Christmas he answered with serious focus, “I want a passport.” Why? “So, I can go to faraway places.”

Oh, my wish is for the world to get flexible enough to handle our son’s autism and allow him to experience all that he wants in this world.

Santa did grant our son’s wish. Santa brought Jackson a passport application in his stocking. Now, we just have to figure out how to get him on an international flight.