BOSTON — “Wings for Autism” hosted its 21st “dress rehearsal” event at Logan Airport on Saturday afternoon.
The “dress rehearsal” is an opportunity for children on the autism spectrum and their families to go through the motions of a typical airport visit to help alleviate the stress of flying.
“When this all started and I was asked if I wanted to volunteer, we were on board. We said of course, let’s do it,” said Rosemarie Hubbard, a Wings for Autism Volunteer whose son is on the spectrum. “He actually participates in the activities, but he also volunteers as well.”
Families start at check-in, making their way through airport security and to their assigned gate. After reaching their gate, families wait a little while before being invited to board an aircraft.
The event isn’t only beneficial for families, but for airport staff as they learn how to better accommodate children with special needs.
“These kids are smart,” said Matt Cuddy, whose son is Autistic. “These kids are normal children who have special needs and don’t process things the way everybody else does. So any type of program like this that can help them sort of get acclimated to these situations, I’m all for it.”
Today’s rehearsal saw over 800 people register to participate, the largest number of people to ever sign up for the event.
“Wings for Autism” was founded by Massport in partnership with the Charles River Center, JetBlue Airways, TSA, Massachusetts State Police, and the Logan airline community in 2011. Rehearsals were originally held at Logan, but have been held at other airports like Worcester Regional.
Since then, the program has been adopted by 70 airports nationwide.
Massport is also in the process of creating a sensory room in Terminal E of Logan Airport for travelers with sensory needs to have a calming space before long flights.