inside autism

VIDEO | Inside Autism: Facing the Challenges of Air Travel


Inside Autism – Madison House Autism Foundation recently partnered with American Airlines and The Arc of Northern Virginia to hold a “Wings for All” event at Reagan National Airport. The goal of the event was to provide a simulated travel experience for people with special needs and their families to learn more about air travel and ease the stress of flying. Participants received a realistic practice run of the airport experience (sans the actual flight), which included entering the airport, navigating the terminal, getting boarding passes at the ticket counter, checking bags, passing through the TSA security screening, and boarding an aircraft at a gate.

Watch the Inside Autism video below to see just what a wonderful day it was. Thank you to Reagan National Airport, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, TSA, Traveler’s Aid, and Sam & Harry’s for making this event possible.


  1. Robert Vincelette
    Robert Vincelette12-22-2016

    I have an airline transport pilot license which I was able to earn n the GI Bill before I knew that I was not cured of autism at the age of 13 when I was released from an institution that had pronounced me cured. Having the control and the simplicity of instructions that only air traffic controllers can give makes flying somewhere myself magnitudes less stressful than commercial air travel.
    Because I could not get employed most of the time I was evaluated and diagnosed that I still am autistic and the FAA found out that I was on and off SSI and SSDI and had to appeal for the right to prove myself medically qualified to use my pilot licenses. Now I am only allowed to have a Class 3 medical certificate which allows me to get paid when I give flight instruction, but there are no opportunities to do air taxi work or fly skydivers anymore since general aviation is being eliminated by the economy.

  2. Robert Vincelette
    Robert Vincelette12-28-2016

    About twenty years ago PBS aired a documentary about a lady who suffered a phobia of air travel. So her psychologist program to desensitize her: The program was coordinated with a flight school at a small airport. She began by sitting next to a parked airplane, advanced to sitting in the airplane with everything shut off, sitting in the airplane while it was parked, eventually riding in the airplane while a flight instructor taxied it, letting her taxi it herself. In time she advanced to running down the runway lifting off and landing to taking flying lessons. Two years later she had earned a commercial pilot’s license and trained in acrobatic flight. A few years later she won the championship in Paris for her precision execution of acrobatic maneuvers.
    Unfortunately, when it was time to take the airliner to go overseas for these things she still suffered anxiety over that kind of flying experience. However, at least she was able to use commercial air travel.

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