Aer Lingus has launched online visual guides to help people with autism and similar conditions prepare for air travel. Created in partnership with the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support at Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, the guides are intended to ease anxieties around flying for individuals with autism. The guides contain a series of slides that walk the viewer through all the steps involved in preparing for and experiencing air travel.
The guides capture the entire air travel experience in colour photographs with first-person language and are divided into three parts: pre-flight, on board, and post-flight. Aer Lingus recommends going through the guides prior to travelling to prepare for the unknown, which can be anxiety-inducing in individuals with autism. It gives parents and caregivers unprecedented access to visuals that are not normally available given today’s security standards.
Declan Kearney, Director of Communications at Aer Lingus, commented:
“We are delighted to launch this resource as we know it will make a real impact on the travel experience of people with autism. We understand travelling can be a stressful experience for both the individual, families and caregivers and we noticed a need for increased support in this area. The guides are available online so caregivers can easily access them on a desktop computer, on-the-go via a mobile device or by printing them out onto portable cards.”
Founder and Director of Irish autism charity As I Am, Adam Harris, welcomed the launch of the visual guides and said:
“Airports and airplanes can be stressful environments for everybody but especially for individuals with autism and any tools which support those with autism in preparing for travel should be warmly welcomed. In order for people with autism to be meaningfully included in society, it is essential that all aspects of the community take steps to ensure accessibility. We congratulate Aer Lingus for showing leadership in this area.”
Each guide was produced by Kinney Center Board Certified Behaviour Analysts and Aer Lingus, with the cooperation of John F Kennedy International Airport Terminal 5 and the Transportation Security Administration.
Jack Foley, Vice President for Aer Lingus in North America was instrumental in leading the development of this resource with the Kinney Center for Autism Education. Speaking about the launch he said: “Aer Lingus is proud to offer this proactive resource that allows families and caretakers who fly with our airline to narrate and prepare for travel scenarios that could be challenging for individuals with autism. We are grateful to our partners at the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support for giving us this opportunity to respond to the needs of this population and for providing this essential support to our guests.”
The guides can be accessed online at: