Author Topic: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities  (Read 9108 times)

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m2kbug

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #45 on: June 26, 2013, 06:13:07 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.

This makes sense. You put together a nice explanation over something I was waffling a little bit over. 

iridaceae

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #46 on: June 26, 2013, 06:45:07 AM »
This guy is really not prepared at all to fly. Weather happens. Planes- yes, even with regular maintenance - can have mechanical issues. Planes can change departure times.  He might suddenly find himself whisked out of the concourse along with everyone else because of a bomb threat.  Volcanos erupt and disrupt air traffic.

And all he can think of is "airline employees should KNOW that I need help because I'm autistic and they should KNOW automatically that I'm autistic." He needs to stop leaning on his disability and be proactive.

He reminds me of the college students who would wait until AFTER the first test to go yell at my dad about how he hated them because they didn't have enough time to take the test because they were dyslexic...And had never once told him before that or registered with the university so that he got official notice.


EllenS

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #47 on: June 26, 2013, 01:44:44 PM »
One section of the blogger's story has me wondering.  The paragraph about his carryon bag that got checked after he was told it would be brought planeside.    He says that he questioned the pilot (the PILOT?) about the bag, and called the pilot rude for shrugging and walking away.  He then says he "confronted" the flight attendant who instructed him, and was greeted by multiple staff members, including one who might be an air marshal.

I can only imagine what this "confrontation" must have been like to have drawn such a response, and it makes me wonder about the line between "accomodating passengers with disabilities" and enforcing a secure working/flying environment.  I realize that people who are not neurotypical have different reactions to stress, but when you are talking about a grown man having an out-of-control reaction, where does the responsibility fall for appropriate & acceptable public behavior?

You hear stories in the news often about loud, confrontational or unreasonable passengers winding up in handcuffs, or banned from airlines.  I would like to hear people's opinions on balancing the rights and needs of passengers who may have a neurological difference, with the safety requirements of workers and other passengers.

TurtleDove

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #48 on: June 26, 2013, 03:54:43 PM »
I would like to hear people's opinions on balancing the rights and needs of passengers who may have a neurological difference, with the safety requirements of workers and other passengers.

I believe that if behavior is disruptive or dangerous in a "captive situation" like an airport terminal or airplane, it doesn't matter "why" a person is behaving disruptively or dangerously -- the behavior simply needs to be controlled.  I believe that if a person has a known condition that might lead that person to engage in disruptive or dangerous behavior, it is up to that person (and not the airline) to ensure there are measures in place to "protect" the person with the condition. 

PeterM

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #49 on: June 26, 2013, 03:56:45 PM »
This is the bit that gets to me the most:

Quote
In one experience, my delayed flight caused me to nearly miss a connecting flight due to severe weather which would’ve meant I’d have to stay overnight unexpectedly and in a strange place—polar opposite from my plans. I became so exasperated that I felt that the clerk wasn’t listening to my expression of restrained anxiety when she offered me a traveling cart to get me from one gate to another—I can walk, run if I have to, so getting from one gate to another wasn’t the issue! After not hearing the reassuring words I needed to hear, I finally “outed” myself by blurting, “I have autism (she never would’ve understood ‘Asperger’s’), and I really need your help to understand my options.” (By the way, I got home that same night just fine.)

If getting to the gate to meet his connecting flight wasn't the issue, what in the world was? I can certainly understand that being stranded overnight in a strange place is a stressful idea, and that it's even more stressful for some people than others. But the clerk was offering to get him to his next flight on time. He says he didn't need help, that he could make it on his own. Great. Then go do that, and let the clerk who's probably dealing with dozens of irate travelers get back to doing her job. What exactly did he want out of her that she wasn't already attempting to provide, over his objections?

I'm not a big fan of "she never would've understood 'Asperger's'" either. It's a pretty well known term these days, so it sounds like he's insulting the intelligence of the woman who was trying to help him.

m2kbug

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #50 on: June 26, 2013, 05:46:44 PM »
This is the bit that gets to me the most:

Quote
In one experience, my delayed flight caused me to nearly miss a connecting flight due to severe weather which would’ve meant I’d have to stay overnight unexpectedly and in a strange place—polar opposite from my plans. I became so exasperated that I felt that the clerk wasn’t listening to my expression of restrained anxiety when she offered me a traveling cart to get me from one gate to another—I can walk, run if I have to, so getting from one gate to another wasn’t the issue! After not hearing the reassuring words I needed to hear, I finally “outed” myself by blurting, “I have autism (she never would’ve understood ‘Asperger’s’), and I really need your help to understand my options.” (By the way, I got home that same night just fine.)

If getting to the gate to meet his connecting flight wasn't the issue, what in the world was? I can certainly understand that being stranded overnight in a strange place is a stressful idea, and that it's even more stressful for some people than others. But the clerk was offering to get him to his next flight on time. He says he didn't need help, that he could make it on his own. Great. Then go do that, and let the clerk who's probably dealing with dozens of irate travelers get back to doing her job. What exactly did he want out of her that she wasn't already attempting to provide, over his objections?

I'm not a big fan of "she never would've understood 'Asperger's'" either. It's a pretty well known term these days, so it sounds like he's insulting the intelligence of the woman who was trying to help him.

This is the nature of the beast.  The thinking process and ability to cope with crowds and loss of expected routine and stress can be such a huge major issue that the Asperger person cannot cope with, at least not in the "normal" way.  What I read into this article, is that this guy was more concerned that the other person wasn't saying the right words and not so much he was about to miss the flight.  The change in expected schedule was a problem in exacerbating the whole situation, but he got on a one-track-mind over people's words and explanations that were not correct, in his mind, and he could not move away from that.  Even in confronting the pilot and stewardess over the bag, he got in his mind certain things should be said and actions taken, and when these people didn't lock-step with whatever his thinking was, the whole situation got nuts.  This is the concrete, off the grid, thought process that can happen with an Asperger or autistic individual. 

And for the record, I am not speaking by level of personal experience, this is strictly my understanding in my limited capacity.

To say "she never would have understood Asperger," is probably very accurate and I don't see it as insulting.  Autism, I think, is more commonly known and understood, at least as far as some of the quirks are concerned.  I think this was his personal experience, other results may vary,.  I have used terminology that people understand better, kind of like using the term "breathing tube" over "trachea tube."  It's not meant to insult someone's intelligence, you just learn over time using certain descriptions are just easier for  everyone involved. 

snowdragon

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #51 on: June 26, 2013, 06:53:06 PM »
One section of the blogger's story has me wondering.  The paragraph about his carryon bag that got checked after he was told it would be brought planeside.    He says that he questioned the pilot (the PILOT?) about the bag, and called the pilot rude for shrugging and walking away.  He then says he "confronted" the flight attendant who instructed him, and was greeted by multiple staff members, including one who might be an air marshal.

 It depends on the airport. I most often travel out of Buffalo - I have taken my violin on the plane and the first time I did so, I was standing at the gate trying to ask the  gate attendant if I could take it on the plane as my carry on or  did I need to check it. The attendant did not answer me so the pilot and co- pilot intervened and told the gate attendant that I should board first and put it in the over head, because it would not be safe in the cargo hold. I imagine in larger airports - it would not be that easy to talk to pilot but in some of them it's possible.
 

blarg314

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #52 on: June 26, 2013, 08:03:42 PM »
I would like to hear people's opinions on balancing the rights and needs of passengers who may have a neurological difference, with the safety requirements of workers and other passengers.

I believe that if behavior is disruptive or dangerous in a "captive situation" like an airport terminal or airplane, it doesn't matter "why" a person is behaving disruptively or dangerously -- the behavior simply needs to be controlled.  I believe that if a person has a known condition that might lead that person to engage in disruptive or dangerous behavior, it is up to that person (and not the airline) to ensure there are measures in place to "protect" the person with the condition.

That's my feeling, too. The general security issues are such that the staff does not have the time and resources to assume that someone might be disruptive because of a disability and need help, and someone who is disruptive due to a known medical issue is still disrupting the flight and inconveniencing the rest of the passengers, and tying up security personal. And, if they're behaving dangerously it's still dangerous no matter what the reason.

I would treat unpredictable issues differently. If someone with no prior issues has their first panic attack on a flight, then they still have to be restrained if they're causing a disruption. But because it was a medical issue that was not predictable, charges shouldn't be laid. If someone knows that their issues could lead to a major disruption, and they have to be restrained/the flight has to be re-routed, then they're responsible for the results.


baglady

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #53 on: June 26, 2013, 08:21:35 PM »
I have Asperger's. And anxiety. And a fear of flying. The way I cope is by not flying unless it's absolutely necessary, such as when my brother was on his deathbed across the country in 2002. I don't play the Aspie card because it's a fairly new addition to the deck -- I was diagnosed after 50 and it was more to explain my past than to excuse anything in my present. However, if I am having a meltdown at the airport -- or anywhere else -- it is involuntary and embarrassing, and if I am in a position to explain it, I simply say, "Beg your pardon, I have anxiety issues."

We have made great strides in accommodating people with disabilities. But here's the deal: The accommodators have to *know* about the disability. If you are an airport/airline employee and instinctively know that Random Person with no obvious signs of a disability (no wheelchair, crutches, service animal, obvious appearance or behavior) is disabled ... quit your airport job, hang out a shingle and start giving psychic readings.

Bottom line: This guy's a special snowflake who needs an attitude adjustment. Having an Asperger's diagnosis doesn't exempt him from a diagnosis of SS syndrome, any more than being blind or deaf or paralyzed would.
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hannahmollysmom

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #54 on: June 27, 2013, 01:38:20 AM »
I went through such an issue tonight. Many flights were delayed due to thunder storms everywhere. I had one person who just couldn't understand. I had to explain that this weather is worse than snow to cause delays, as it isn't just the flying. If there is lightning in the area, then the ramp agents can't even load the luggage as they could get hit by lightning. Delays work the domino effect. (and my personal opinion is, if the captain doesn't feel it's safe to fly, then I'm with him/her!)

This person was upset that they wouldn't make their connection and blamed the airport. Asking, what were we going to do for him?

I totally understand that a person with autism (Asperger's)  needs routine, and needs to stay in their comfort zone, but sometimes, it just isn't possible.

Allyson

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #55 on: June 27, 2013, 04:25:15 AM »
I don't blame him for his actions at the time, but for him to look back on it, and make sarcastic nasty comments about how it was handled, seems really over the top. It's a litany of what people did 'wrong' and how badly he felt, without an explanation of what would have been *right* in that situation, or what would've helped him. I read it and still have no idea what it was he wanted. If the majority of people reading the article are confused about what the flight staff did wrong, then I think it's very unrealistic for him to expect people to know what he needs without asking, especially in a stressful situation dealing with many many people who have anxiety about flying for tons of different reasons. Also, so far as I know, autism/Asperger's is not a one size fits all situation--what works for one person might be the wrong thing for another.

Twik

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #56 on: June 27, 2013, 03:54:11 PM »
I understand just how frustrating these things are for ANY flier, not just ones with disabilities.

However, I think that a proactive approach would be to (1) prepare in advance with coping strategies for delays, even overnight ones, and (2) be prepared to explain your disability to obtain the help you need.
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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #57 on: June 28, 2013, 12:53:05 AM »
To say "she never would have understood Asperger," is probably very accurate and I don't see it as insulting.  Autism, I think, is more commonly known and understood, at least as far as some of the quirks are concerned.  I think this was his personal experience, other results may vary,.  I have used terminology that people understand better, kind of like using the term "breathing tube" over "trachea tube."  It's not meant to insult someone's intelligence, you just learn over time using certain descriptions are just easier for  everyone involved.

I disagree. His assumption seems to have been based on the fact that she didn't somehow pick up that he was on the spectrum. Of course she didn't deduce that from his "expression of restrained anxiety," because really, how was that different from any of the other people she was having to rebook? Many people know what Asperger's is without being able to immediately recognize it.

perpetua

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #58 on: June 28, 2013, 02:16:33 AM »
I've been trying to think how to word this since the start of the thread and I still think I'm coming up short, but I'll give it a go.

Since part of Aspergers is the inability to empathise with what other people are thinking/feeling, perhaps he doesn't comprehend that other people can't be expected to automatically recognise his disability and automatically know what he needs. Because it's *his* reality and he doesn't have the ability to empathise, perhaps he doesn't understand why other people aren't automatically seeing its existence. He knows what he needs, he doesn't empathise with others thought processes, therefore he assumes they are thinking the same way as he does about it and is shocked when it turns out they aren't. Perhaps that's what led to the blog post, rather than entitlement.

Still not explained correctly. I know what I'm trying to say, but I can't get it to come out right.

blueberry.muffin

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Re: Airlines and "Invisible" disabilities
« Reply #59 on: June 28, 2013, 11:02:45 AM »
To say "she never would have understood Asperger," is probably very accurate and I don't see it as insulting.  Autism, I think, is more commonly known and understood, at least as far as some of the quirks are concerned.  I think this was his personal experience, other results may vary,.  I have used terminology that people understand better, kind of like using the term "breathing tube" over "trachea tube."  It's not meant to insult someone's intelligence, you just learn over time using certain descriptions are just easier for  everyone involved.

I disagree. His assumption seems to have been based on the fact that she didn't somehow pick up that he was on the spectrum. Of course she didn't deduce that from his "expression of restrained anxiety," because really, how was that different from any of the other people she was having to rebook? Many people know what Asperger's is without being able to immediately recognize it.

I also feel like his immediate assumption of "never understood Asperger's" was insulting, for several reasons. 1) As a former teacher I had two students with the diagnosis of Asperger's. One had symptoms that were extremely obvious; one did not and I would never have guessed had it not been in her file. 2) His particular statement implies that she would never, in the future, be able to grasp Asperger's. Say wha? That's a direct slam on her intelligence and just plain belittling. :-P

In any event, I'm kind of wondering if this entire discussion is moot, considering that the DSM-V is heavily leaning towards the removal of the diagnosis.