November 8, 2017 12:54 am
Updated: November 15, 2017 3:44 pm

Flying with autism can be daunting. Here’s how some kids took to the air, some for the 1st time

Today's Global News Hour at 6 Health Matters is brought to you by Pharmasave. Flying can be stressful at the best of times, but for families of children with autism, it can be virtually impossible. As Catherine Urquhart reports, a new program hopes to help them take flight.


For many families with children who have autism, flying in an airplane can prove a daunting task.

The sensory issues that their kids face can mean they stay firmly on the ground.

But a program that’s been launched by the Pacific Autism Family Network is giving families an opportunity to face their fears, up in the air.

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Three kids with autism recently took to the air as part of the program, on a flight that was donated by AirSprint, a private aviation company based out of Calgary, Alberta.

One of them was five-year-old Leo, who had never been on a plane.

“We haven’t been on a flight before because he gets overwhelmed with all the noises and the long wait times at the airport,” his mother Jacquiline Pau told Global News.

“So we weren’t sure how he would do.”

The flight took the kids and their parents on a 30-minute trip to Whistler and back. The plane was equipped with a sensory toolkit that included headphones, in case the young passengers needed them.

Leo visited the cockpit, while Braeden Nerpio enjoyed the view from above.

READ MORE: This ‘social ABCs’ program aims to give children with autism their voice

“This in a small environment, a low sensory environment gives them the opportunity to try it,” said Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia, co-founder of the Pacific Autism Family Network.

But how did the flight go overall?

Just ask young Cleo Zemann.

“Good!” she exclaimed as she disembarked.

“Very good!”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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