SALT LAKE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Utah — The Salt Lake City International Airport reports 25 million passengers board planes there every single year. Most people don't enjoy fighting those crowds — especially those who have kids on the autism spectrum.
That's why James Vaughan started Taking Flight for Autism — an event that allows these families to prepare for the often hectic airport experience.
Vaughan, the president and co-founder of Families for Autism and Asperger’s Standing Together, or F.A.A.S.T., has hosted this event for families for the past eight years.
As a father of a child on the autism spectrum, Vaughan said he understands what families go through while trying to fly together.
“The biggest concerns are understanding what the limitations of the child are, making sure they understand the environment that they’re going to be in,” Vaughan said.
With all the lights, sounds and new people associated with the airport, it can be an overwhelming experience for kids on the spectrum who are used to a daily routine.
Taking Flight for Autism not only strives to help kids on the spectrum experience flying, but also helps parents get a practice round to know how their kids will react.
It allows them to "experience the air travel adventure without ever leaving the ground,” Vaughan said.
The flight makes an adventure for both kids and adults, departing with a deeper understanding of each other.
“The most exciting thing I saw was just the smiles on these kids faces,” Vaughan said. “I’m very proud that we can play a small role in helping those kids have a good time.”
34 families registered for the event this year.