BCPS in the News

Broward County Public Schools Students with Special NeedsTake-Off on Autism in Flight

Monday, June 02, 2014
 
“Boarding on Flight 7916 to Honolulu”
 
Taking a family vacation flight with a child with autism can be stressful, and for many families, it is often an impossible dream. To assist these families, Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) in partnership with JetBlue Airways and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, hosted the second annual Autism in Flight event on Thursday, May 29, 2014.
 
Students with autism from five participating elementary schools – Dania, Everglades, Panther Run, Park Springs and Silver Lakes – and their families had the opportunity to practice a real life air travel experience.  The students boarded a JetBlue plane from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport for a pretend trip to Honolulu and a realistic look at traveling.
 
From check-in at the ticket counter and walking through security, to boarding the plane at the gate, more than 50 students with autism got the opportunity to navigate the airport experience firsthand in an effort to help reduce stress on an actual flight.
 
Air travel can be challenging for individuals with autism due to symptoms associated with the disorder, including hypersensitivity to large crowds and strangers, loud noises and communication difficulties. The BCPS Autism in Flight program offers students and their parents the opportunity to navigate the air travel process in a realistic, relaxed environment, with other families in the autism community.The Autism in Flight event included trained JetBlue and Transportation Security Administration personnel providing assistance throughout the process.  BCPS behavioral consultants volunteered throughout the day to assist students. The practice travel process included ticketing, security screening, announcements in the gate areas, boarding and preparation for take-off.
 
“This mock flight is the perfect culmination of weeks of travel lessons, practice activities and classroom preparation," said Kathrine Frances, executive director for BCPS Exceptional Student Education & Support Services. "We are grateful for the incredible support and partnership of many in our community who made this endeavor possible for our students."  
 
In addition to JetBlue Airways and the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, the Autism in Flight program was made possible with support from the Broward County Commission, Transportation Security Administration, Broward Sheriff’s Office, Hudson Group, Greater Fort Lauderdale and Delaware North Companies.
 


Students with Autism in Flight and parents wait in line for boarding passes.


















Students with
Autism in Flight boarding on pretend flight to Honolulu.



 
 







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Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth largest public school system in the United States, the second largest in the state of Florida and the largest fully accredited K-12 and adult school district in the nation. BCPS has over 260,000 students and approximately 175,000 adult students in 229 schools and education centers and 94 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population. Students are from 204 different countries and speak 130 different languages. For more information about BCPS, visit (browardschools.com), follow us on Twitter (@Browardschools) and like us on Facebook @ (facebook.com/browardschools).