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27 Dec, 2015

Project Launched to Help Children with Autism Fly Comfortably

LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE) – Dec 23, 2015 –A new initiative has been launched to offer parents the opportunity to take their child with autism on a short experience flight so they can assess how they cope with the whole process and develop strategies to overcome any issues.

The lives of thousands of families are affected by autism. For many parents the prospect of a journey by air is too daunting to contemplate because of the worry of how their child with autism will react to this unique environment. The new sounds and sensations of air travel, together with the noise and bustle of an airport can be unnerving and frightening to anyone experiencing it for the first time, but for someone with autism, this can be greatly amplified and overwhelming.

Led by specialist aviation training company, FOF Events, raising funds in support of The National Autistic Society, and in conjunction with Ryanair, the Flying With Autism initiative has been established not only to help a child with autism familiarise themselves with the flying experience, but also for parents and carers so they can undertake the necessary preparation in advance of the flight to ensure that their child’s experience is as smooth and as comfortable as possible.

It’s a 2 part programme consisting of an initial Ground Course exclusively for parents and carers to help them prepare their child for the airport and aircraft environment. This is then followed by an exclusive Experience Flight, a fortnight later, offering the parents/carers and their child with autism the opportunity to take a short flight to assess how they cope with air travel before committing to a potentially expensive overseas holiday.

The programme is designed to provide advice and coping techniques to assist parents and carers support a child with autism through the more stressful parts of the experience such as airport security as well as the noises and sensations on board an aircraft.

The 2 hour Ground Course will be held at 2.30pm on Sunday 28th February 2016 at the Chiltern Hotel in Luton and the Experience Flight, aboard a Ryanair Boeing 737, will take off from Stansted airport at 2.30pm on Sunday 13th March for a 30 minute round trip flight.

Kelly Railton, Corporate Partnership Lead Manager, The National Autistic Society, commented: “We are very excited that Flying with Autism has nominated our charity to benefit from donations from their courses. A recent survey by the NAS showed transportation is a huge issue for people on the autism spectrum and their families, and can prevent them from taking part in everyday activities, particularly leisure opportunities such as holidaying abroad. We hope that Flying with Autism’s courses, along with our own current work in creating more accessible transport environments (such as airports and trains), will help the more than 1 in 100 people on the autism spectrum in the UK, and their families, to access the same leisure and culture activities as everyone else.”

Ryanair’s Director of Personnel and Inflight, Eddie Wilson added: “We are pleased to support this initiative by providing free use of our aircraft and we hope this course will make flying that bit easier for families touched by autism. We are striving to improve the Ryanair experience for all customers and especially families, and we look forward to welcoming these parents and children on board in March, and hopefully on future Ryanair flights.”

The cost of the full programme is £289 which includes the initial ground course and the experience flight.