Thursday, June 26, 2008

Autistic boy and mother kicked off flight!!!!

Here's a link to the story...

I am not sure why this particular incident has me so upset but I imagine its because I know that could have been me and David so many times! I know how hard it is for everyone on the plane when there is a child who is not behaving well but that has never been an issue until the last year or two when suddenly some flight crews feel that they have the right to judge and punish those who are not behaving perfectly.

From what I have read, I don't think the mother disclosed to them that her son was autistic. That MIGHT have made a difference but probably not. The flight crew sounds like they probably wouldn't have cared. This whole situation just has me all worked up. I have been thinking back to all the times I've flown with David that this could have happened to us. We've been blessed with kind or at least tolerant flight crews in our experiences but that doesn't guarantee that will always be the case.

I can think back to the first time David flew... He was 4 1/2 months old and he screamed the entire flight! I tried everything I could think of: bottle, diaper change, pacifier, walking and bouncing, shushing, etc. He would not stop. He wasn't even slightly affected by my attempts. In fact, now that I know he has Fragile X, he probably was just made more agitated by my efforts. Finally a woman on the flight came up and asked if she could take him for a bit. I gladly let her have a go at calming him. Then a woman across the aisle from me told me she would have done the same but she didn't think I'd let her have him since I didn't know her. My response was, "Well, I'm exhausted and besides, where's she gonna go with him? We're on a plane in the air and I can see him from my seat." She agreed that was true and we talked a bit about flying with a fussy baby. We were flying to Utah for Hogi Yogi corporate training. The flight home was mostly uneventful.

The next experience I can remember vividly was when David was 19 months old. We were flying from Fresno to Salt Lake City for Doug's sister, Bente's wedding. It was December so it was cold and snowy in Utah at the time. We were seated in the very last row of the plane, right next to the lavatory. Now most people would think that was the worst seat on the plane but to be completely honest, it was extremely convenient. David was restless on the flight but we had tons of toys and books and snacks to try to keep him occupied. The flight was relatively short at 2 hours but that's a long 2 hours with a fussy toddler! Until just a few years ago, David was always vomitting when he felt anxious or upset. He also did it when he got crying or laughing too hard. We had to really be careful with that but sometimes we couldn't stop him. So the flight attendant was so nice and kept coming back to check on us and him. She brought him extra snacks (cookies) to make him happy (a huge mistake in hindsight) and he seemed to be doing really well until the last 30 minutes or so. He went from fine to total meltdown in about 5 seconds and was crying and screaming so hard that we were just trying to calm him down in fear that he would throw up all over the plane. He was already in his spare outfit after a previous accident before the flight so we had nothing else to put on him if his clothes got dirty. Well, he eventually did vomit all over himself and the seat and his booster seat and everything. It was horrible! I felt so embarrassed! The flight attendant was right there with large garbage sacks for us to put his clothes in and his booster seat in. She helped me clean up the seats and everything while Doug cleaned up David and stripped him down to his diaper. We changed his diaper and then wrapped him in a blanket, which did not escape the vomit completely but enough to be wiped off and used to keep him warm until we could get our suitcases and dress him again. I was amazed at the compassion from the flight crew and also the other passengers. They could all have easily looked at us with scorn because of what had happened. Let me assure you, the smell spread all the way to the very front of the plane. It was that bad! But everyone was so kind and helpful. We were blessed that way. We did get some odd looks from other patrons once inside the airport. Afterall, we had an 18month old baby wearing only a diaper and a blanket wrapped around him in December in Salt Lake City!

I know that we've had some people give us nasty looks or make rude comments over the years, not just on flights but also just out in public together but for the most part we've experienced a lot of kindness too. I really feel for the mother of that autistic boy. They should not have been treated the way they were. They flight crew is supposed to "ATTEND" to their guests on the flight and HELP them, not yell at them and humiliate them and kick them off the plane! There's just no excuse for the behavior of that flight crew and I hope that they realize just how wrong they were. I understand that it's important to try to control your children and keep them quiet out of respect for other passengers on the flight but that is not always withing a parent's control, not completely at least. You just do your best. I hope that people will learn from this incident and that they can learn to be more caring in the future.


Anonymous said...

I loved how you said that they should "attend." Prolly why they call them flight "attend"ants huh.

I'm really interested to see where this will lead.

Tiffany said...

Exactly! It's their job to make help the people on their flights, not to make any situation worse or to belittle people or any of the things they did to that poor mother and her little boy! I watched the video of him and he is such a doll!

I am also interested to see where this will lead. I hope it leads to something anyway, something good in the way of PROGRESS!

Jen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen said...

We haven't done any flying in years. One of the last times was when I was flying to Florida (John was already there), and I had all three kids--probably around 5, 3, and 1. After we boarded the plane, they took Kyle's carseat because they said that it wasn't approved for airplanes-----even though it had a sticker on it that said it was! That started it all. He screamed/slashed cried ALL THE WAY THERE. Matt joined in a little. Better yet, there was extreme turbulence, and I was having motion sickness issues. The attendants were handing me wet towels and the puke bag in one hand, while I'll was trying to comfort Kyle in the other. Yes, I puked. Surprisingly, I don't remember any harsh words or awful looks. Funny thing---the poor people who sat in front of us for that flight were sitting right behind us for the flight home a week later.

sara said...

Hi - Great post! Aaron & I (Pratt) were in BYU 99th ward with you; Laurie Crossman and Danika Park are the only people I've kept up with over the years from that ward... anyway I've enjoyed reading what's going on with you guys. My cousin has a little girls with Rett syndrome; she was first diagnosed with autism... I am glad to be learning more about these disorders to better understand what my cousin and other people are going through. You're a great mom and you have some cute boys!