Airlines need to become autism aware – Richmond

5th May 2019 - Neale Richmond, TD

FLIGHT attendants should be trained in autism awareness and airline companies need to be more mindful of families travelling with autistic children, Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond has said.


Senator Richmond said flying with children can often by very stressful for parents, however, for families with children with Autism, there are added difficulties.


“In order to ease these stresses, airlines must become more autism aware to ensure that all passengers can feel comfortable with air travel. We now need to see flight attendants be trained in autism awareness to help ensure that flying is as comfortable as possible for those with autism and those who may be accompanying them.


The Dublin Senator cited examples currently being deployed.


“This has been introduced by Canada’s Flair Airlines, the first of its kind in North America. Air travel exposes passengers to many new sights and situations, including bright lights, noises and large crowds. This can be stressful for anyone, and even more so for someone with autism.


“Introducing autism awareness training would allow flight attendants to understand what passengers with Autism are experiencing and allow them to assist in the best way possible. Such courses would also encourage flight attendants to take the lead from the parents in a stressful situation and provide whatever assistance they feel is best.


“While I believe more improvements can be made, Dublin Airport does provide a guide for passengers travelling with autism outlining what they can expect at all stages of their journey through the airport to minimise the fear that can be associated with travelling through a large airport. If flight attendants were trained in autism best practice this would work to extend that support through to all stages of the journey.


“With the Department of Health estimating that between 1-1.5pc of the Irish population are on the autism spectrum, we cannot ignore their needs. All families should be able to travel without worrying about whether the airline and flight attendants will understand their family’s needs,” Senator Richmond said.

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