Logan Airport Allows Autistic Kids, Families To ‘Test Run’ Travel Routine

BOSTON (CBS) — Autistic kids and their families were able to go through a “test run” at Logan Airport on Saturday.

The Wings For Autism program allows kids on the autism spectrum to go through the motions of travel with their parents.

Attendees were able to go to the airport, check-in at a ticket counter, get boarding passes, go through the TSA security check, board a plane, be seated, and take part in a simulated ten to 15-minute flight.

The large spaces with long wait times and loud noises can often frustrate kids with autism, said Jennifer Ryan, coordinator for Wings for Autism, a nonprofit based in Needham and Natick.

Saturday’s event was the nonprofit’s 14th event at Logan. The event is no pressure and free of charge. Its programs have been adopted nationwide.

For 11-year-old Jackson Ardolino, it’s a dream taking off into reality.

“We come to the airport. We go to central parking. We go to the seventh floor… we watch the planes take off and land. He just fell in love with it,” said his father, Matt Ardolino.

But for 8-year-old Kian Costigan, the plane can be a little scary.

“We came last year at this time and we got as far as the gate, but we didn’t quite get on the plane, which is why we’re back again today, so we can try again,” said his mother, Stephanie Costigan.

Not only are these families getting their tickets and going through security, they are actually getting on the plane.

“And the kids practiced in the airplane and the mom waited for them with a sign that said, ‘We’re going to Disney. We leave tomorrow,’ and I just kind of stood there with the sign and the kids got off the plane and everybody was crying,” said Ryan, the coordinator. “It’s one of my favorite days. It is my favorite day out of the year.”

 

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