Airline helps ease fear of flying for autistic kids

published: Sep, 20, 2023

by: guestposts

A local organization is helping parents of children with autism to prepare for take off.

Dozens of families were at Lambert airport today to participate.

Organizers of this event said this has never been done before here in St. Louis.

Saturday, Children with autism experienced what it was like to board a plane for the very first time.

For most travelers at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, It’s a typical way of getting from point A to point B.

“I’m gonna feel less nervous,” said Luke Friedel. But some for some like Friedel, flying on a plane is an adventure that’s never been done before.

“I’m looking forward to my first flight,” Luke said.

He and about 20 other kids who have autism met at Lambert, Saturday with their families.

They’re are part of Love You to Pieces, an organization that supports parents with autistic children. Saturday, they partnered with American Airlines to take participants through a full process of taking a flight.

“Coming to the airport, the ticket gate, the security, walking to the gate, getting on the plane,” said participant, Gayle Jones. For the participating parents like Jones, there was one mission in common, “Just kind of helping him get rid of some of the fears and anxieties about going on a plane”.  As For the kids; “Right now, I’m most looking forward to meeting the captain”.

“Events like this can help people in the community and it’s a learning tool for them,” said parent of participant, Hayle Hilke.

Once boarding passes were handed out, it was time for take off.

“We wanted to do it here and give it a shot and make sure it goes out and help these kids get on a plane and realize that it’s not that difficult to go through the airport and get on a plane and fly,” Flight Attendant for American Airlines, Michael Fortune.

The plane never really took flight today, but taxied around the run way. Organizers of Love You to Pieces tell NewsChannel 5 that today’s exercise was preparation for an real flight they may take to Kansas City in the near future.


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