Belts, jackets, scarfs, and shoes off. Electronics in this bucket, personal items in another. Step forward, wait here, walk through, and keep moving.
One of the hardest parts of our travels seems to be TSA. It can be frustrating for any family but when traveling with a special needs child the task of just getting through can seem so daunting and overwhelming before even getting started.There have been many times I have run after Logan with one shoe on, one bag in my hand, trying to slide the other shoe on trying to catch up to him.
The airport for Logan is exciting and amazing and even though he is over stimulated he wants to explore it all. Waiting in line is difficult, taking off his favorite shoes can be a real challenge. Putting his precious toy planes through the X-ray is painful for him.TSA is aware that traveling with disabilities presents new challenges and has created a program that assists passengers with disabilities; TSA Cares.
We utilized TSA Care on our recent trip to Mexico City. I contacted TSA 72 hours prior to our departure. I provided TSA information regarding our family, our flight information, Logan’s disability, his triggers, and the difficulty TSA presents for Logan.
I was provided with a follow-up email regarding the TSA Care program and information regarding our departure airport.The TSA has specialized trained employees called Passenger Support Specialists. The PSS assist passengers who have a disability and provide guidance and assistance to families when they encounter the TSA process.
Two hours prior to our flight I received a text from Officer Brown introducing herself and asking where we would like to meet her at. Once we had arrived at TSA, Officer Brown met us with a warm and beautiful smile. I could tell by her warm presence that the process was going to go much smoother than before.Officer Brown got down at eye level and introduced herself to Logan, though Logan wasn’t readily excited to meet a new person or wrestle the TSA process he quickly warmed up to Officer Brown.Officer Brown collected our boarding passes and our identification and personally assisted us in getting through the TSA process. She escorted us to the front of the line to prevent Logan from having to wait a long time, which often is a trigger for Logan.
Office Brown explained everything in very simple terms to Logan this is the way that Logan understands best. Logan was able to leave his shoes on which was a sigh of relief, I was already trying to figure out how I was going to get them back on. Once our personal items were cleared through the X-ray, it was time to walk through. I underestimated Logan and thought for sure he wasn’t going through the X-ray machine. Office Brown even offered us to carry Logan through but her TSA sticker badge was the perfect bribe. Logan quickly walked through the x-ray machine in hopes to get his TSA badge.
Once we all got through the X-ray machine, Officer Brown helped us gather our items and helped us wrangle in our kids who were ready to run to their gate. Officer Brown gave us an extra set of hands in a difficult situation. Officer Brown made sure we had all our items and pointed in the direction of our gate. Officer Brown gave both kids their very own TSA badge stickers and a pat on the back for doing such a great job.
This program and the extra help and kindness we were shown made our TSA experience almost effortless. Many autism parents know that TSA could trigger a meltdown and some undesirable behavior. TSA Cares helps curb that by taking triggers and disabilities into consideration. I was very pleased and impressed without TSA interactions. I recommend any families of children with disabilities that are planning on traveling to check out TSA Cares. TSA care took an additional stress off us while trying to get to our gate. I wish I had known about this program and utlized this program a lot earlier in our travel adventures.
This will definitely be part of our travel routine from now on and we are thankful for TSA for thinking of passengers and families with disabilities and showing us that TSA truly does care. Sometimes it is the small things that make a big difference.