The “Wings for Autism” program was held at Logan Airport on November 4, and designed for families with children on the autism spectrum to help ease the stress of flying. Attendees had access to Boston Logan’s Sensory/Calming Room for the first time ever during this event.
Launched in 2011, the program was developed by Massport in partnership with Charles River Center, JetBlue Airways, TSA, Massachusetts State Police and the Logan airline community to offer a dress rehearsal of an authentic travel experience for neurodivergent children and their families. Massport has hosted more than 9,000 children and family members at the prior events, including three at Worcester Regional Airport. The program is now followed and modeled at nearly 70 airports. JetBlue and Delta are providing aircraft for this event.
Attendees will also be able to tour our new Sensory/Calming Room in Terminal E. Boston Logan is one of the few major airports in the U.S. to provide this type of experience to passengers of all ages. The space has various interactive stations that focus on balance, light therapy and cognitive/memory improvement, including a room that replicates an airplane cabin to help passengers acclimate themselves with the often-stressful experience of flying.
Families are able to navigate the travel process by practicing the different steps from airline check in, to security clearance, waiting at the gate, and finally boarding the plane. Not only is this a benefit to the families who participate, but it also provides a valuable training opportunity for airport, airline and TSA personnel to learn how to accommodate children with special needs.
The Charles River Center is a private, nonprofit human service agency in Needham, Massachusetts that has been providing programs and services for children and adults with developmental and other disabilities since 1956. Founded by a group of parents with children with special needs, the mission of Charles River Center is to empower and support people with developmental disabilities and their families by offering high-quality, individualized opportunities that foster independence and community inclusion.