Successful Second Year of Wings for Autism®

On August 24th, The Arc of the Ozarks, Allegiant Airlines and The Arc of the United Sates co-hosted the Second Annual Wings for Autism® event at the Springfield-Branson National Airport. This event was held in partnership with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Abilities First and JW Terrill. Wings for Autism® is an airport “rehearsal” created to alleviate some of the stress that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families experience when traveling by air.

At arrival, participants received a passport to guide them through the boarding process and a backpack full of sensory activities and snacks. After receiving their boarding pass, individuals went through TSA before boarding the aircraft. Once onboard, flight attendants went through the flight and safety procedures and answered any questions the individuals had. Following the experience, participants were given McAlister’s boxed lunches and cupcakes from Star Cakes.

“This event has been extremely beneficial for my family,” stated Jennifer Proctor, a parent of two identical twin girls with autism. “Every day is a new day. This event helps with the predictability of the flying process. We could not have asked for kinder staff throughout the whole process.”

This event is open to all individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Springfield area and beyond who seek a safe, but realistic experience of travelling through an airport. 65 families were able to attend this second annual event.

“We are so appreciative of the Springfield-Branson National Airport and Allegiant Airlines for working with us a second year,” stated Family Advocate and event organizer, Elizabeth Obrey. “We have seen the positive impact Wings for Autism® has had on the families participating.”