As the mom of a severely autistic, nonverbal kid, I worry about a lot of things.
Eloping isn’t one of them. Tosh isn’t a runner, and for that I am very thankful.
He's also very good at staying next to me and following directions. He always stops at the curb and looks to me before entering a street. He always puts one hand on the shopping cart without being reminded when we're in a busy supermarket parking lot. He never goes far without making sure I'm within his eyesight.
And because of that, we can do things other autism families can't, like go on vacation without constantly worrying about his safety.
Until last week.
We were on a mini-vacation by the beach and were checking out of our hotel. This year, he's become super helpful and is starting to carry his own weight. For example, he carries groceries into the house without being asked. He rinses off his plate and puts it into the sink after every meal without being asked. He picks up his own toys...
Today we achieved a major milestone: Tosh watched a new movie all the way through, and only used his iPad once.
This has been a long time coming. We first took Tosh to the movies three years ago. At that time, he was five and if you have a moderate to severely autistic 5-year-old, you already know how that turned out. It didn't go well.
He kept running up and down our row and wanted to sit in the row in front of us. At one point, he crawled under the seats so he could get there.
This all happened during the previews. Mid-way through the animated short, we left. He just couldn't handle it.
But we didn't give up. I'm very passionate about the belief that everyone deserves to go out and experience the world. Whether it's going to the movies, out to eat at a restaurant or on vacation, kids and adults with autism are capable of far more than we realize.
They just need lots and lots and lots of practice.
It's a real conundrum: the only way to learn social skills is...
Flying with an autistic family member can be stressful enough. But these days, it seems like every week there’s a news story about an airline that kicked a passenger off an airplane for no good reason. Too often, it seems like a case of discrimination.
As the parent of a child who screeches, kicks seats and has meltdowns, you can’t help but wonder if you might be the next national headline, like the Beegle family after they were escorted off a United flight by police in 2015.
You shouldn’t let this fear stop you from traveling. But it’s important to know your rights.
The Department of Transportation has specific regulations governing air travelers with developmental disabilities. The DOT defines an individual with a disability as anyone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life acitvities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.
The regulation also specifically...