Flying Aspie Airlines
Please stow your anxieties safely under the seat in front of you, and keep your thinking in a positive, upright position for takeoff.
What better way to start this week of Disney and Travel blogs than with the very thing many of us use to reach travel destinations; air travel. For many people, this seems like a very trivial and straight forward process, however for me (and I suspect other people with Autism) it can be very stressful and confusing.
(A good example, booking the wrong flight, exactly a month earlier than we needed for our honeymoon!)
Though in my defense... Why is the flight number the exact same with the exact same time, but a month earlier...
Anyway, once you've gotten flights booked, you've packed everything, changed your currency and gotten some travel insurance (Seriously buy this stuff, especially when heading to the USA!) you're finally ready to go! Though, in the process you may have missed some Autism flight essentials.
First off, distraction is so helpful and thankfully most electronic devices now come with flight mode, meaning you won't need to shut them down for takeoff and landing. (Wait do they even ask you to turn off devices now? Maybe I should have been paying attention...) So I have this theory about how people with Autism perceive time differently from Neurotypical people, which is a whole can of worms; but the gist is idle time can drag so much harder and noticeably for us. A flight is no different in this.
Pack a portable game console if you have one, music players, smart phones, travel board games, anything to pull us away from the however many hours we need to spend idle on the plane. (or even in the airport waiting for the plane.)
You see, I am very neurotic, and rightfully so, about getting to the airport early. There are so many things that can happen between leaving your house, to getting to your local or major airport, and then getting through security to the gate. As awful as it is to sit and wait for your flight for a long time because you got there too early, its a MUCH better feeling than missing your flight.
The second important thing to pack is some kind of in-ear plug. This isn't a sure thing to be fair, as each of us are different, and I'm sure many of us hate the feeling of something inside our ear. However, I am a HUGE believer in these for air travel. Don't get me wrong, I still get a pack of gum and do the chew and swallow technique like there's no tomorrow; but it just doesn't fully work for me. Basically, our goal is to avoid ears popping with the changing of altitude and cabin pressure; nothing says sensory nightmare than sudden severe pain in your ears and weird wooshing sounds that are definitely not what you should be hearing.
So, when I was young, we went with airsoft earplugs, honestly you can find these in most pharmacies and pharmacy sections at supermarkets. They are great because they create a seal in your ear, and can help further control the pressure change in your sinus cavity(?). Now that's great and all, but why not take it a step further and try to solve the problem in the first point, AND this point. For me, I find most in-ear headphones will create almost as well of a seal. (As long as you use the right earbud that fits snugly in your ear. Thankfully most headphones of this type will come with multiple sizes) Now, you not only have something to help with ear popping, but also another form of distraction with any form of audio media you might have with you!
The third thing is a fairly simple but important one; pack any medication you need in your carry on. We're all human, that's the same for people working at the airlines; and sometimes luggage can get lost. There is absolutely no shame if you're someone who needs medication to function in the day to day, because I do too. It is so important to keep a consistent dosage and schedule with medication, so having them lost with your luggage in a place where you can't access new medication? Not an ideal situation.
Finally just have patience. This is my advice for everything essentially, but the airport can be very busy and overstimulating, sometimes we just need to take it slower, or might get a little lost in the process. Don't immediately get upset at the person in front of you for being slow during the security process, because you just don't know what that person may have, and how they're handing the stimuli.
Anyway, have a fantastic day, and see you tomorrow!