We’ve all been in there – you’re on a plane and realize it’s going to be a looonnnnnggg flight because there’s a screaming kid on board. If you’re a mom you most likely understand how hard it is and have sympathy. Maybe. But for those of us who have kids with special needs our child who is “acting up” might not be a toddler – he might be a 12 year-old or even a 20 year-old. I’ve been there to a degree. My son is super anxious about flying and he CAN’T…SIT…STILL. And he talks to himself – loudly. And, by the way, he’s 6’4”. Nope, not easy.
Recently a friend of mine whose daughter has special needs bravely ventured to Disney. All of us prayed that she’d have an enjoyable trip and were so happy when she posted how well the trip was going.
And then she flew home.
The following is her Facebook post that she gave me permission to re-print. Please read and understand parents try their best…
I have debated whether or not to share this on fb because tbh it’s not that easy too. But after giving it much thought I figured I share so much of the good that it’s only fair to share the less than ideal moments too. I also want to share because I think/need/want people to be aware of this issue. We have all seen viral you tube videos about it, we have seen situations like this covered in papers like the New York post, we have seen them flood our Facebook newsfeeds…yesterday you could have seen me there. You could have read about how a special needs mom and her daughter caused a raucous on flight #1494. It would have been so easy for someone to video my inability to control my daughters outbursts that went on for the duration of the flight. You easily could have read the litany of comments beneath the post how the mother did nothing to stop it. That she allowed this child to scream, cry, throw things, hit her, and demand food from the flight attendants. Most likely a specialist would chime In somewhere lecturing how parents need to be more prepared for situations like this. They need to come on board with snacks, activities, and social stories. They should prep their special needs child for airplane travel and explain to them the proper behavior for it. I guess I feel a responsibility to explain the other side. So much of the time the special needs parents side of the story is unheard and misunderstood.
Yesterday’s plane ride was a disaster for numerous reasons but none of those reasons were due to lack of airplane prep, insufficient activities, and inadequate snack selections. Much of the failure of that plane ride had to do with issues that were simply beyond my control…X was exhausted, the flight was delayed, she was extremely anxious, she was overly excited, and she was unable to manage any of it.
If I could have I would have cancelled my flight and flown when X was in a better frame of mind but air travel is just not set up that way. What I hope/want/need people to understand is that certain aspects of special needs are unpredictable, uncontrollable, and unmanageable. What I wish people understood is that this is a very frightening thing for a caregiver and that it can render them helpless. Yesterday I simply got lucky that the flight staff was understanding and tolerant and that the passengers around me were empathetic. I did the best I could to control an uncontrollable situation and we somehow managed to survive.
While the scars from it will likely take quite sometime to heal, the memories from #Disney2018 will last a lifetime????