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'Always Be Kind If You See A Family Struggling': How A Mom Of 3 Kids With Autism Takes Them Travelling

The mom of three shares how they tried to make plane rides less stressful for her kids
PHOTO BYFACEBOOK /AUTISM MOM GAOLAI

Plane travel with kids is much fun, but let’s admit that it can be tough at times. Crowded airports, waiting in lines, restricted movements, sitting down and staying still--all these mixed together, can give you the perfect recipe for any child's meltdown. 

Many don’t understand though, that even with these challenges of traveling, parents will still choose to travel with kids because it is a child's happiness anchor as they are growing up.

A mom based in Oregon, USA shared their travel story on her Facebook page, which reminds us to extend even just one act of kindness while traveling. 

“5 years ago, we decided to book our first plane tickets to travel as a family. We booked it months in advance, so I took my time to make sure I had all the things my kids needed in a few carry-ons from toys, snacks, candies, iPad, blankets. I made us autism shirts just in case we lost each other in the crowd and also to spread awareness.  I was extremely nervous just thinking about the whole trip,” Gaolai wrote on her Facebook page

Gaolai and her husband decided to travel from Oregon to Minnesota, USA. It was a three-hour flight, but for parents of kids on the autism spectrum disorder, it can be a challenge. 

For Gaolai and her family, traveling is extra challenging for this reason--all their three kids are on the autism spectrum disorder

Their kids are Ivan, 12 years old, Isaac, 10 years old and Zyana, 7 years old. Ivan was diagnosed with ASD level 2 while Isaac and Zyana are both in level 3. 

Gaolai shared with Smart Parenting some helpful tips, “My advice to autism parents is to have any items that help your child cope when in distress. It can be food items, toys, and blankets. Noise canceling earmuffs is a must have! My kids need it in crowded places.”

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Photos from Gaolai on how she helped her kids survive traveling.
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How to travel with three kids on the spectrum

She continued to share their travel experience, “When the actual day came, I remembered trying to keep all three kids close by and distracted while Steven (my husband) checked us in and got our tickets printed. I carried Zyana in one arm and the other strolling Isaac and Ivan stood beside me. I remembered Zyana cried because she just wanted to run freely across the airport. Isaac started having anxiety seeing so many people and he wanted me to stroll him out of the airport. I started to feel overwhelmed and worried about my kids.”

What seems to be just the usual routine in airports is a challenge for their family. Kids on the autism spectrum disorder may not like crowds, loud noises, and unfamiliar places and situations. 

That’s why Gaolai is grateful for the people who extended their help to their family, “I’m forever grateful for the understanding TSA (Transportation Security Administration) workers who made checking in fast and smooth for our little family. I don’t know what we'd do if we had to wait 30+ minutes in the long line to check in.”

RELATED: Local Airline Goes the Extra Mile to Accommodate Kids With Autism!

Gaolai, at one point, felt that maybe, they shouldn’t travel. After checking in, the kids finally felt comfortable, and they let them play and walk freely until they had to board. All the kids had so much fun exploring and getting on the airport electric walkways.

But Isaac and Zyana weren’t ready to go and Isaac sat on the ground crying and screaming.

She wrote, “I remembered trying to comfort him and giving him hugs. We tried giving him everything he liked but he didn’t feel like boarding. I almost broke down and my eyes were filled with tears. I told my husband that maybe we shouldn’t travel cause it was too much for Isaac. It hurts me seeing him uncomfortable and upset. He’s not able to communicate that to us.”

But her husband encouraged her that everything will be alright, “My husband reassured me multiple times that it’s okay, and that we got this, and we’ll do this together. I held back my tears and got up and we boarded the plane.”

However, aboard the airplane, the kids started to feel more uncomfortable. 

RELATED: These Brothers With Autism Have Had Public Meltdowns: The Right Thing to Say if You Witness It

Gaolai said, “As soon as the plane took off, Isaac started screaming and crying. He started kicking the seat in front of him repeatedly. We also feel sad for Isaac too because we know he’s trying to tell us something, but he couldn't get the words out to express it through scream and cries. We feel awful for the person in front cause her seat was being kicked for 3 hours straight. I was afraid a passenger was going to complain and get us kicked off the plane because I’ve seen on the news about families with autistic kids and their bad experiences during their travels.”

After their flight, a lady approached Gaolai and said she was the person that sat in front of Isaac in the plane. She said, “She told me she works with kiddos on the spectrum too, so she completely understood, and she told me it was okay, and she said that we’re doing a great job and she hugged me and left.”

Gaolai felt thankful for the stranger's act of kindness to her and her kids, which made their travel more bearable. She also shared that another stranger on the plane didn’t mind when Zyana, her youngest child rested on his arms for the whole three-hour flight. 

Their experience as a family reminds us to avoid the judgmental looks whenever a child is having a meltdown, screaming and crying-- because we never know the full picture of what they are going through. 

Their experience as a family reminds us to avoid the judgmental looks whenever a child is having a meltdown, screaming and crying-- because we never know the full picture of what they are going through. 

What’s sure is that an act of kindness always goes a long way.

Gaolai ended her post, “Always be kind if you see a family struggling.”

She also said, “Over the years being their Mom, I’ve realized that all my children need is someone that listens and is flexible and has patience. They’re all unique and different in their own ways. They even have their own personality. Autism is just diagnosed and it’s not who they are. They have their ups and downs just like every human being.”

Always choose kindness, it’s free!

Trending in Summit Network

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