Wings for Autism takes flight at Columbia Metropolitan Airport

COLUMBIA – Wings for Autism soars for people with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities April 18 at Columbia Metropolitan Airport. This is the first event of its kind in South Carolina. Wings for Autism™, one of The Arc’s newest national initiatives, is an airport rehearsal program specially designed for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, their families and aviation professionals.

Originated by the Charles River Center, a local chapter of The Arc in Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Port Authority, Wings for Autism™ is designed to alleviate some of the stress that families who have a child with autism experience when traveling by air. The program provides families with the opportunity to practice entering the airport, obtain boarding passes, go through security, and board a plane.

Wings for Autism™ also gives airport, airline, TSA professionals and other personnel the opportunity to observe, interact and deliver their services in a structured, learning environment. This experience is equally useful for families that have a member with other intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) that are concerned about the ability of their family member to travel.

Delta is providing one of their airplanes for our participants to board on and get a feel for a real flight experience. The plane is booked full of eager participants along with a family or friend per participant. The event is set to kick off at 10:30 a.m. with a welcome. Upon arrival, event attendees will check in to receive their boarding pass, go through security, and be greeted at the gate prior to boarding the plane. All participants will receive a backpack filled with a variety of perks from sponsors. A small reception will be held afterwards.

“Airplanes can be stressful for anyone particularly for people with lifelong disabilities. There are many families unable to travel by air because of the complications and uneasiness that comes with flying. Wings for autism allows people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to experience a trial-like program and slowly get accustomed to the procedures associated with flying. The Arc of the Midlands is excited to bring this innovative concept to Columbia and are looking forward to bringing the program to Augusta and Atlanta, Ga.,” said Melinda Moore, CEO of The Arc of the Midlands.

The Arc – The Arc advocates for and serves people with I/DD, including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of 700 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

The Arc of the Midlands – The Arc of the Midlands is a member of the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.  We encompass all ages and all spectrums from autism, Down syndrome, Fragile X and various other developmental and intellectual disabilities.