Author Topic: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities  (Read 10079 times)

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snowdragon

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #30 on: June 21, 2013, 01:32:15 PM »
Everyone in the world wants to be accommodated these days - and I see what this guy is asking no differently than I see some of the other accommodations we male for other groups. If we are willing to make accommodations for other situations....play places for kids in many airports, allergen or scent free spaces, someone to assist those who need help with luggage, or unaccompanied minors or even translators for the deaf or someone to aide the blind,,then we need to be willing to provide for help for folks on the Autism spectrum - at this point I am not sure that there is that assistance for them.
   yes, they need to be willing to ask, but we also need to realize that they might not realize that part of being on the autism spectrum is communication related and the person might not realize the issues, until the problem occurs. And they might not realize that the situation is hard for everyone - and blame it solely on their disability. 

At least some airports DO have a quiet, secluded area - the chapel.
   I never even knew there was a chapel in every airport..thanks!

Onyx_TKD

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #31 on: June 21, 2013, 02:12:42 PM »
Everyone in the world wants to be accommodated these days - and I see what this guy is asking no differently than I see some of the other accommodations we male for other groups. If we are willing to make accommodations for other situations....play places for kids in many airports, allergen or scent free spaces, someone to assist those who need help with luggage, or unaccompanied minors or even translators for the deaf or someone to aide the blind,,then we need to be willing to provide for help for folks on the Autism spectrum - at this point I am not sure that there is that assistance for them.
   yes, they need to be willing to ask, but we also need to realize that they might not realize that part of being on the autism spectrum is communication related and the person might not realize the issues, until the problem occurs. And they might not realize that the situation is hard for everyone - and blame it solely on their disability. 

At least some airports DO have a quiet, secluded area - the chapel.
   I never even knew there was a chapel in every airport..thanks!

I don't have a problem with the idea of accommodations to help people on the autism spectrum. However, if airlines are required or pressured to make accommodations, there should be some rationale for how the accommodation will actually help. The author has given no indication about how the suggested accommodations would have improved the situations he describes. It sounds like the employees were telling him how to deal with each situation (ride the cart to his gate, pick up his bag at baggage claim). If written instructions would have helped, they probably could have written them down for him if he asked. If quiet rooms and autism-accommodation staff were available, they still would not have known he needed them unless he asked (and he would still have had to deal with the original problems of a missed connection and having his bag sent to the wrong place). It's very unfortunate that his disability makes it hard to communicate his needs, but that doesn't enable the airline staff to read his mind. It means that he needs to proactively figure out how to satisfy and/or communicate his needs when situations like this occur.

He doesn't mention ever asking what accommodations (if any) the airline is already prepared to make for people in his situation. Perhaps the same staff who accompany minors and people with physical disabilities would be available to escort him from one connection to the other and help him handle any unforeseen delays if he asked for that help. It would probably be a lot easier and cheaper for them than the accommodations he suggests, and seems more likely to fix the actual problems he was describing. But did he ever ask? He only describes getting upset that the staff didn't know how to accommodate him without being asked and calling the airlines to tell them what they should do for people with autism, without providing evidence that it would actually help.

Beyond standard, required accommodations like accessible parking and restroom stalls, ramps, etc., don't most people needing accommodations need to be proactive about them? The airline might refrain from serving peanuts on a flight where someone is deathly allergic, but they have to tell the airline it's a problem, right? Not just show up and expect them to know that they need to ban peanuts today. You can bring your service dog on the plane, but you can't just show up with a dog without warning and expect the staff to be ready to accommodate you, right? If you need someone to help you in the airport because of a physical disability, etc., you have to ask for that assistance, right?

RebeccainGA

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #32 on: June 21, 2013, 02:28:09 PM »
Everyone in the world wants to be accommodated these days - and I see what this guy is asking no differently than I see some of the other accommodations we male for other groups. If we are willing to make accommodations for other situations....play places for kids in many airports, allergen or scent free spaces, someone to assist those who need help with luggage, or unaccompanied minors or even translators for the deaf or someone to aide the blind,,then we need to be willing to provide for help for folks on the Autism spectrum - at this point I am not sure that there is that assistance for them.
   yes, they need to be willing to ask, but we also need to realize that they might not realize that part of being on the autism spectrum is communication related and the person might not realize the issues, until the problem occurs. And they might not realize that the situation is hard for everyone - and blame it solely on their disability. 

At least some airports DO have a quiet, secluded area - the chapel.
   I never even knew there was a chapel in every airport..thanks!

I don't have a problem with the idea of accommodations to help people on the autism spectrum. However, if airlines are required or pressured to make accommodations, there should be some rationale for how the accommodation will actually help. The author has given no indication about how the suggested accommodations would have improved the situations he describes. It sounds like the employees were telling him how to deal with each situation (ride the cart to his gate, pick up his bag at baggage claim). If written instructions would have helped, they probably could have written them down for him if he asked. If quiet rooms and autism-accommodation staff were available, they still would not have known he needed them unless he asked (and he would still have had to deal with the original problems of a missed connection and having his bag sent to the wrong place). It's very unfortunate that his disability makes it hard to communicate his needs, but that doesn't enable the airline staff to read his mind. It means that he needs to proactively figure out how to satisfy and/or communicate his needs when situations like this occur.

He doesn't mention ever asking what accommodations (if any) the airline is already prepared to make for people in his situation. Perhaps the same staff who accompany minors and people with physical disabilities would be available to escort him from one connection to the other and help him handle any unforeseen delays if he asked for that help. It would probably be a lot easier and cheaper for them than the accommodations he suggests, and seems more likely to fix the actual problems he was describing. But did he ever ask? He only describes getting upset that the staff didn't know how to accommodate him without being asked and calling the airlines to tell them what they should do for people with autism, without providing evidence that it would actually help.

Beyond standard, required accommodations like accessible parking and restroom stalls, ramps, etc., don't most people needing accommodations need to be proactive about them? The airline might refrain from serving peanuts on a flight where someone is deathly allergic, but they have to tell the airline it's a problem, right? Not just show up and expect them to know that they need to ban peanuts today. You can bring your service dog on the plane, but you can't just show up with a dog without warning and expect the staff to be ready to accommodate you, right? If you need someone to help you in the airport because of a physical disability, etc., you have to ask for that assistance, right?

ITA, and this was my point as well. Someone in a wheelchair is going to need a ramp, minimum. Those can't be conjured up, so they are in place already, but that's one of the few things disabled people (or anyone needing something different from typical) don't have to ask for. Someone with a severe allergy will need to have that allergen excluded, if possible (and really, as prevalent as peanuts are on flights, both provided by the airline and in packaged snacks that people bring on board, I don't know how any but the mildest allergy wouldn't be set off just walking in the airport). If you need an escort because of vision issues, you have to prearrange it. If you want something as simple as a vegetarian or a kosher meal you have to ask a week in advance, for pete's sake!

Just like those of us that are 'invisible minorities' that have to fight for visibility (and yes, even though I've been an openly gay woman for almost 20 years now, I still get asked which gay boy I'm friends with when I'm in a club, assuming I'm just there as a straight friend), if you have something that is important that needs to be communicated, you speak up. Use your words.

Dragonflymom

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #33 on: June 21, 2013, 02:32:19 PM »
Thank you all.  So many great insights!

What I try to do for my daughter is try to manage things to minimize meltdowns - try to have as few connecting flights as possible, always have snacks since hunger triggers meltdowns, try to find calming distracting things at the airport (indoor gardens, sculpture exhibits, sometimes airports will have paintings or art displays) and take her to those to get her in a better frame of mind.  And then it pretty much keeps the impact of her issues on other people non existent, which is where I think the etiquette issue comes in.  And it keeps her happier and calmer too, so it's win-win.

I didn't know I could get a card to help get accommodations for her if needed, so that's really good to know.
"By swallowing evil goats unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach"  Winston Churchill

EllenS

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #34 on: June 21, 2013, 03:02:46 PM »
I think a large part of the blogger's frustration & difficulty was that he wanted accomodations made *without asking for them*.  This reluctance to ask for help may be part of his processing issues, but the fact remains that if you want to "pass" and not "out yourself", (his words), then you have to be able to cope with all the same things that typically-processing people cope with.

In every example he cited, a "fixed" or facility based accomodation would be useless - what he was having difficulty with, was a changing situation where he needed guidance.  If you need human guidance, you have to signal in some way that you need help.  I also notice that when he did explain his needs, it would seem the staff were in fact helpful.

It would have been useful for him to prearrange some help, but the card would probably work too.  I think he just wanted something that is impossible.

TurtleDove

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #35 on: June 21, 2013, 03:11:32 PM »
I think the fact that this person has Aspergers is second to the fact that he is a Special Snowflake. I think he did the autism community a major disservice.

NyaChan

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #36 on: June 21, 2013, 04:21:49 PM »
I think it was unfair of him to criticize what happened at the airport when he had given the airlines no notice of his needing accommodation.  The one time he actually identified to an employee that he had a need, he was given help.  People shouldn't be labeled unhelpful just because they can't read your mind.

rashea

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #37 on: June 24, 2013, 11:10:35 AM »
Ok, here goes. First, ADA doesn't apply to air travel, so this guy is pretty uninformed. You need to look at the Air Carriers Access Act for air travel rules. Second, just so people know, if you're using a wheelchair or can't do stairs I highly recommend calling your airline and making sure you're on a flight with a boarding ramp. They do still use stairs on the tarmac for some smaller flights, and it's no fun discovering that they can't accommodate you. Third, I found it hilarious that he claimed that airlines and airports have accommodating physical disabilities down. I've had my chair broken (twice) and lost (once), I've had TSA not know how to pat me down, and try to insist I go through the metal detector (I don't fit, and well, duh, it's going to beep).

But, sorry, I feel for him, but he made no preparations (calling ahead, making cards asking for discrete help). Even if they followed his advice and had a person who specialized in helping people with autism and that person was somehow able to be in every place at once, he'd still have to ask for someone to summon them.
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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #38 on: June 24, 2013, 05:05:19 PM »
DisneyWorld is super accomodating for people with disabilities, including invisible disabilities.
But what they require is if you need an accomodation for an invisible disability you talk to Guest Services and tell them about your needs..not your diagnosis, but your needs.  Then they give you a card that explains those needs to other "Cast Members"  So someone might need to wait in a  shaded area.  Someone else may need closed captioning. Someone else may be autistic and may need to wait some place away from others.  But you do have to tell them what you need to be accomodated. Unless you are in a wheel chair, they won't guess.

blarg314

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #39 on: June 24, 2013, 09:02:57 PM »

It also occurs to me that there a lot of things this guy could have done proactively, knowing about his issues.

He could have printed out maps of the terminal so he could see exactly where to go for transfers, even if his gate was changed. He could have role played various scenarios with a friend or family member, so he had a plan if things went wrong.  Like, 'what to do if your plane is delayed and you miss your connection', or 'what to do if your luggage is lost'. He could have gone over a list of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour with someone, like 'you never enter or exit a plane without being explicitly told to do so', 'never bother the pilot or air marshals unless it's a matter of immediate security', 'don't go into areas marked private under any circumstances', and 'don't make a fuss with security guards or immigrations officials even if you're upset, and don't make jokes about the security process'.

But what he did was apparently expect that everything would go perfectly, and if it didn't, the airline staff would psychically know exactly what he needed, and provide specialized services tailored to his particular manifestation of the disability without needing to be asked.

As an aside - even with physical disabilities, there are limits to what airlines will do. They will provide transportation through the airport and assistance boarding, and will transport equipment like a wheelchair *with advanced arrangements*. If you don't phone in advance, they might not have a wheelchair available. Or you might discover that the small regional flight doesn't have room for both passengers and your motorized wheelchair.

And there are lot of things they won't do, even if they're necessary and related to a physical disability. If you need medication administered, or help with bodily functions, it's up to you to bring someone along who can do it for you, or manage on your own.


Otterpop

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #40 on: June 25, 2013, 01:38:58 AM »
OP I'm glad you started this thread.  My daughter has Asperger's and is traveling with her school band to Europe next summer.  I decided to bite the bullet and pay for myself to go as her "shadow" adult, though she thinks she can do it all on her own (uh...7 countries in 16 days, I don't think so...)

It's nice to know about that little card to print out and keep with us, also it's nice to hear all of the suggestions put forth.  To those who think high functioning Asperger's have no issues let me say black and white, literal thinking, ADD and ADHD, missing social cues and the absolute NEED to have everything go as planned and be predictable are real problems.  Their stress can then become problematic for everyone around them (my DD starts complaining incessantly under her breath, it becomes increasingly audible.  When I admonish her she starts "grrrrrrrrrring" in her throat, people notice - stressful ::)).  Proper planning helps alleviate problems but doesn't prevent all.  It's a delightful/stressful life most of the time.

No the airline should not be required to accommodate everyone, but employees should be more empathetic once a condition has been identified.

hannahmollysmom

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #41 on: June 25, 2013, 02:07:41 AM »
As I've mentioned before, I work at an airport. I'm in communications, which means I monitor security cameras, alarms, dispatch police, medical, and fire, as well as customer service and other things.

Before I get into my post, I just wanted to mention to those with autistic children, who plan to travel, check with your airport. We have a program at ours for autistic children and their parents who are planning to travel. The family comes to the airport and is given a tour and things are explained.  They practice going through security, and actually going onto a plane and sit in a seat and then the plane is explained. It has been very successful. (Kudo's to Southwest as they are the airline that works with the program).

Our airport is small. We service about 3 million a year, so you can imagine larger airports. If you have a disability that isn't obvious, you need to inform people, and people will help.

I've had to dispatch police many times to take care of someone who is headed to rehab, alone, and decides to tie one on before heading there, and then flips out. How is the person checking them in supposed to know that? The police here only restrain if the person is violent. In most cases, they work hard to contact someone to come pick them up, and stay with them until someone does.

The ones that get me angry, are the people who put their elderly parents on planes who have Alzheimer's, alone! Then panic when the person doesn't get to their destination. They blame the airline for losing them. Did they inform the airline when they checked them in? No. But, I'm the one who gets the call. Airlines cannot give out information on passengers, due to privacy laws. Even if you say you are the daughter, on the phone, what proof do you have. So I have to call the LEO to talk to the airlines to try and locate these passengers, while being yelled at by the adult children.

I could go on, but wont'. I see this guy as a SS and do not find fault with the airlines at all for his issues.

Twik

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #42 on: June 25, 2013, 11:07:56 PM »
I think that perhaps the writer is assuming "air travel is difficult for me, because I'm Asperger's," when the real truth is "air travel is difficult".

Yes, if you're easily thrown off by changing schedules, or delays, or complete breakdown in plans such as being stranded overnight, it's stressful, but this is part of the reality of air travel. I agree with a previous poster that perhaps some role-playing, or at least contingency planning, would help this flyer more than simply expecting staff to recognize people with hidden disabilities without the passengers actually identifying their issues.
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m2kbug

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #43 on: June 26, 2013, 03:50:15 AM »
I've seen "special snowflake" come up a few times, and I don't know that I really see that.  I imagine a lot of this behavior was completely out of his control at the time the stress occurred.  He is understanding of his disability otherwise, which means he really could take some measures in advance just in case he needs it and just in case he reaches a point that he goes off in a completely different direction and loses control.  I think a printed card would be a really good idea.  Not everyone is going to know how to work with and redirect an Asperger or autistic person, and a print-up could really come in handy, I think, in addition to whatever notes could be made available when booking the flight so that the airline workers can be aware of any potential problems.

Hannahmolleysmom mentions the level of assistance that is provided for people, and the thing that gets in her craw is putting elderly, Alzheimer parents on the plane alone with no warning.  Would some preplanning be useful here?  Is this something that can be managed the same way as managing sending a minor child alone?  Would this type of assistance be beneficial for an Aspie?  It just seems some warning in advance could make all the difference.  Once the Aspie hits certain stress levels, they may have zero control on their thinking pattern or their behavior, and an outside source to help redirect could prove useful...especially with a little preplanning. 

Onyx_TKD

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #44 on: June 26, 2013, 04:19:08 AM »
I've seen "special snowflake" come up a few times, and I don't know that I really see that.  I imagine a lot of this behavior was completely out of his control at the time the stress occurred.  He is understanding of his disability otherwise, which means he really could take some measures in advance just in case he needs it and just in case he reaches a point that he goes off in a completely different direction and loses control. I think a printed card would be a really good idea.  Not everyone is going to know how to work with and redirect an Asperger or autistic person, and a print-up could really come in handy, I think, in addition to whatever notes could be made available when booking the flight so that the airline workers can be aware of any potential problems.

Hannahmolleysmom mentions the level of assistance that is provided for people, and the thing that gets in her craw is putting elderly, Alzheimer parents on the plane alone with no warning.  Would some preplanning be useful here?  Is this something that can be managed the same way as managing sending a minor child alone?  Would this type of assistance be beneficial for an Aspie?  It just seems some warning in advance could make all the difference.  Once the Aspie hits certain stress levels, they may have zero control on their thinking pattern or their behavior, and an outside source to help redirect could prove useful...especially with a little preplanning.

His actions at the time of the incidents may have been driven by his stress. However, looking back on these incidents at a time when he is not under stress, he still blames the airlines for all of his difficulties. There are indeed measures he could take to try to avoid this in the future, but he seems more focused on telling the airlines what they should do differently instead of taking any responsibility for handling his own condition. That is what comes across as special snowflakey IMO.