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Local Airline Goes the Extra Mile to Accommodate Kids With Autism!
PHOTO BY screenshot from Autism Society Philippines/Facebook
  • You want your child to have the opportunity to interact with kids from all walks of life, especially when he is tagged as "special," "odd" or "different." We want him to live in a world where empathy and kindness come first. Unfortunately, the world today sometimes needs a reminder (or two!) to be respectful, kind, inclusive and accepting.

    In celebration of the 23rd Autism Consciousness Week (January 19 to 26, 2019), Autism Society Philippines (ASP) collaborated with Philippine Airlines (PAL) to help kids with autism familiarize themselves with air travel and to help employees learn how to interact with kids with special needs with kindness and respect. 

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    "The opportunity to ride an aircraft before their actual trip allows them to gain familiarity to a unique environment," Mona Magna-Veluz, ASP national president said in the video. The ASP worked with PAL in preparing youth with autism for air travel when they attended the ASEAN Autism Games in Jakarta, Indonesia in October 2018.

    In the video, the kids with autism "try out" traveling by air. They went through the protocols and processes before boarding the aircraft. Once they were inside the plane, they were exposed to the sounds and sensations that would otherwise overwhelm them or cause them distress had they not had the opportunity to learn about it beforehand.

    With the help of ASP, PAL now has autism-friendly policies and procedures in place. If you're flying via PAL, you may call +632 855-8888 or 1-800-4-359-725 (U.S. and Canada) at least 48 hours before your flight. We highly recommend you use and send PAL your child's "sensory profile," which contains his preferences when it comes to touch, vision, hearing, and taste and smell (a sensory profile template by ASP is available here). You may also request for a Gluten-Free/Casein-Free meal as well. The sensory profile will allow PAL's ground and cabin crew to extend the appropriate assistance for your family.

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    We're glad to see partnerships like ASP and PAL because it spreads the word about autism awareness effectively. Still, the change we need to see starts at home.

    To help you spread awareness and understanding about kids with autism, you can use these videos geared toward young and old kids and adults:

    Sesame Street's  muppet named Julia and Abby Cadabby, the 3-year-0ld fairy, help kids understand what autism is like and try to explain to other kids that they're not much different as others may think. It also helps kids with autism feel included to see themselves or a character that's like them on TV. Watch Julia's first appearance on the show below, and see more of her on Sesame Street here

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    Independent animation director Alex Amelines had older kids in mind when he did the multi-award-winning animated short video entitled Amazing Things Happen. His film incorporates imaginative animation, simple words, and kid-relatable situations to describe autism. He had help from Tony Attwood, a psychologist who has worked with people with Aspergers Syndrome and autism. Watch the five-minute video below.

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    The U.K. National Autistic Society made the video below for their campaign Too Much Information. It shows what sensory overload is like through the eyes of a child with autism. The boy with autism in the video experiences sensory overload, from seeing bright lights, loud and jarring sounds, he at some point had to calm himself down by counting but still could make it through walking in a shopping center.

    ASP has also helped match youth adults with autism with companies that can employ them, making them productive citizens of the Filipino society. These people and companies are proof that it's not impossible to include persons with autism in the community, whether they're kids or adults. All we need is a little empathy, understanding, and kindness. 

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