Odds and Ends to Consider for Passengers on the Spectrum

Despite everything from my blogs related to products and other events through Future Horizon’s,   I have to once again realize the origins of these blogs.  That is to write about topics are of scholarly value while others in practical application.  Here, I would like to once again write about autism and traveling through an airport.   Yes, it has been a while since I have put my peddle to medal and really talk about more things that I feel anyone could benefit from.    Without further delay, here are more things I have considered.

Me in the cockpit during a Saturday tour.

Foremost, about a handful of airports, including Hartsfield-Jackson International airport have opened sensory friendly.  To name a few others, Cork International Airport in Shannon Ireland, Heathrow International Airport, and Myrtle Beach International.  Beyond that, officials from Pittsburg International came to visit Hartsfield with the purpose of designing a third sensory room in the US.   Looking at their website, they stated that they have spoken with the public of how a sensory room should look like.   A few suggestions were

Neutral smell

Soundproof

Calming activities for children

As someone who have spent lots of time with the “Wings for Autism/All” events and the “Taking Flight: Autism Worldport Rehearsal Tours,” I support all of the above, being that autism can affect one’s sensory issues.   That Hartsfield-Jackson being so big, I warmly welcome closing down the smoking lounges and converting them into other sensory rooms.   Right now the option is to go all the way to concourse F, they locate which just inside the international terminal. Otherwise, finding the quietest spot at another concourse at an empty gate, discovering nooks inside each gate, and even walking downstairs with the tunnels and the electric train are.  Even more so, since there are only a handful of sensory friendly rooms in international airports, out of 40,000, other options have to select.

Filtered florescent light at Hartsfield-Jackson sensory
Bubble Machine at Hartsfield Jackson

On another note, families have the option of investing in noise canceling headphones which are wireless.  After doing thorough research of trying out and looking into price options, I found that Sony really has the best quality for families who have loved ones with sensory processing disorders and other factors that trigger their anxiety.  Yes, Sony and Bose offer a more peaceful experience for an autistic, this is a very costly investment.   The average price of good quality noise-canceling headphones comes in at the price of $300-$400. In that case, a family night needs financial aid to help their child. Yes, there are cheaper options out there.  For instance, Sony offers a pair of $50.00 noise-canceling headphones that required being plugged into a phone.  Others only work when paired with a phone or plugged in. Unlike the Sony or Bose, listen to music.  Still, they are thick enough to muffle loud, surprising and overwhelming noises.   That said, if noise cancelling headphones are not an option, one can invest in getting a pair of headsets or old-fashioned foam earplugs.

I for one and a sensory seeker, which means that I enjoy the feeling of the foam when applying the ear plugs in a noisy environment.

Flight attendant

Just as importantly, airport personnel needs to know that a passenger has an invisible disability like autism spectrum disorders.   Just recently, airports in the UK have adopted the Sunflower lanyard program.   This enables autistics to wear special lanyards with Sunflower which tells a worker that the passenger has an invisible disability and may need help.  Why just today, while I was at the Wings for All, event, I received a gift bag.  Inside contained a bracelet with the Delta logo that lights up in two directions. One one end, the light remains steady, whereas the other, the light will flash.  This gave me another idea I think airports like Hartsfield-Jackson will find to be helpful.  Like with the sunflower project, autistics would wear similar bracelets that light up while they are at an airport.   All the while, they would train all airport personnel to in being able to recognize the illuminated bracelets.  Whenever an autistic is about to have a meltdown, their parents and themselves can then switch the bracelet to flashing mode which would notify an airport official they need help.  Believe me, I could think about all of this in one afternoon after seeing the bracelet post at the big event. 

As I bring this to a close, I really hope that the public has time to read this blog and that these words taken seriously and put into action.  Even more so, that families and individuals on the spectrum will feel more comfortable by traveling through an airport. 

References

Dyson, M. (2019). Cork airport rolls out scheme for passengers with hidden disabilities. [Web article]. URL:
https://buyingbusinesstravel.com/news/2030046-cork-airport-rolls-out-scheme-passengers-hidden-disabilities

Sensory Room(2018). [Webpage] Pittsburg Intrrnational Airport. URL http://www.flypittsburgh.com/programs- services/services/sensory-room

Worth-It for You to Learn about the origins of “Hello World with Miyah”


It’s April, meaning that this is Autism Awareness Month to most of the world while others refer to this as Autism Acceptance Month. Since the opportunity is at grabs, I would like to share a little more about myself and how I got started as a blogger.    

First and foremost, I would like to mention that I wear 7 hats in society

I am employed at the Center for Leadership in Disability which is housed in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University . The second hat that I wear is that I am an undergraduate student in my last year with a major in psychology before going onto persue a master’s in public health with a concentration in statistics

The second hat that I wear is that I am an undergraduate student in my last year with a major in psychology before going onto pursue a master’s in public health with a concentration in statistics

I am the entrenuer to the blogging Brand “Hello World with Miyah”

I received a press pass to blog about a Future Horizon’s Autism Conference in November 2018. Temple Grandin and Anita Lesko were two of the speakers

  • I started blogging on youtube in late 2013
  • I expanded my blogs to writing on wordpress in 2016
  • Recently, I began blogging for Future Horizon’s books, which sells products related to autism resources.
    I am a homeowner in the greater Atlanta area which I have been for nearly a decade and recently just got a red-headed roommate named AJ who says “Meow.” homeowner in the greater Atlanta area which I have been for nearly a decade and recently just got a red-headed roommate named AJ who says “Meow.
Me at an autism airport rehearsal tour

I sit on the ADA at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport along with being involved with their monthly Autism Airport Rehearsal Tours. “Taking Flight: Autism Worldport Tours

  • Our team won an award from Delta Airlines

The 7th and final hat that I wear is that I am autistic and was diagnosed at age 11 in 1993 with Pervasive Developmental Delay- Non-Other Specified. Post, diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 22 in late 2003, which was renamed as an autism spectrum disorder.  

My best friend Brad Clark and at I at 2008 Candlight Ball, since I don’t have ones for 2007. No we are not dating but we have talked about it.


It all began in 2007 when I could attend a special black-tie affair called CADF: Candlelight Ball, they held annually which raise money for autistic adults to receive services. Back in the day, I was a client for the Emory Autism Center, which had a program for adults. Based upon learning that a close a friend telling me of this exciting opportunity, I was persistent in contacting my behavior specialist. At first, the opportunities were slim pickings as the slots were almost full. Apart from the odds, I could get into the event. Prior, it required me to take etiquette lessons with other clients, which included two friends of mine. In the course of the lessons, the center hired a videographer named Damon Wood. While he recorded the lessons, he looked for clients who will do an interview As he was asking around, my late aunt and I was among those who he inquired. As a result, I said, “Yes.”

My Late Aunt Lois

As he was asking around, my late aunt and I were among those who he inquired. Following, Lois had had Damon and his assistant, Chris over for dinner. Next, I stayed in the dining room with Damon and Chris while Lois left the room. At such a time, I spent the next hour sharing my story in which I shed tears while I shared my desires. Though I wanted something to show those desires, Damon fell in love with some outspoken and straightforward things I came up with.  

When the big night came on March 8, 2007, I fell in love with the event which was something I saw out of a favorite TV show, “The OC,” which was big in the early 2000s. During, they treated my friends and me to a top of the line dinner and a lovely jazz band. Therapists and mentors who had worked with I also greeted me. Most of them approached me and said that my interviews in the video were fantastic. Then the big moment came when they showed the video, A Lifetime of Service, which was about all the things individuals could achieve at the center. Though I was expecting a Barbara Walters’s style interview, it surprised me. Rather, there were snippets of myself practicing dinner etiquette with my peers, cooking, studying and saying outspoken things. One of those things were, “Sometimes neurotypicals can be a pain in the butt, but I have learned to live with them. I moved the audience to laughter and tears. In fact, you can view the video down here. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAjywO1VMA4

Six year later, Wood had gotten in touch with me after looking over my archived videos. In consequence of, I agreed to meet him at a frozen yogurt shop in late June of 2013. During this time, we discussed doing a series of vlogs with me. He said that these should really be on you tube. At that date, I was in love with shows like Good Morning America and The Today Show. At the moment, he wanted me to a day in the life of an autistic type vlog. In the meanwhile, I desired to create a vlog that would look more like a news show by autistics for the nerd word, where we would cover everything from NASA to conventions like Dragon Con. All the same, Damon attempted to do a few sessions with me which I looked forward to. Prior to this, I began writing out scripts and constantly thought about old broadcasts in the 50’s ere combined with the first two words in the opening theme from the Partridge Family. In which, these words were, “Hello World.” That being said, those opportunities would not last being that he had a family to take care of and bills to pay. Therefore, I took over project on the 25th of October 2013, the day after my 32nd birthday. Link can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVr6z2U0eNE =qVr6z2U0eNE

Since that date, something has determined me to build an audience for myself. In the beginning, I relied on a webcam, a Kodak digital camera and iPod Touch. There were no fancy titles or music to speak of. As I researched vlogging, I found free editing apps on my iPod which had music and titles.   

Since that date, I have been determined to build an audience for myself. In the beginning, I relied on a webcam, a kodak digital camera and ipod touch. There were no fancy titles or music to speak of. As I began to research vlogging, I found free editing apps on my ipod which had music and titles.

During this time, I attended talks by Temple Grandin next to reading her books. Among this information was excellent information regarding autistics developing talents and skills which could turn into a portfolio. Being I loved to write, I elected to put my writing skills to use so I too could sell my work. I had elected that unlike my YouTube videos, these would be scholarly and practical application types that would be autism specific. 

I also stumbled upon a well-known vlogger named Casey Neistat who showed the meaning of “Day in the Life” type vlogs. Though I didn’t jump onto that bandwagon at first, I watched plenty of Neistat’s videos and listened to his music repeatedly. In 2018, I could download my first serious editing software along with getting a hold of the few of the same songs found in his videos. In January, my first works got published,

The first book I wrote about for Future Horizons
Temple and I at Matthew Reardon Autism Conference

At the same point, I elected to expand my written blogs by electing to find events where I could get a press pass and write blogs. One thing I wanted to blog about were events related to talks given by Temple Grandin. Luckily, my first opportunity was around the corner as a friend had invited me to an event in the Chicago area. I soon acted upon this opportunity by putting myself out there and making myself known. During the interval, a representative of Future Horizon informed me’s blogged about their books at conferences. Ecstatic as I was, I signed up and wrote my first blogs in mid-2018. These titles  includedhttps://helloworld240.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/reviews-its-just-a-what-little-sensory-issues-with-big-reactions/https://helloworld240.wordpress.com/2018/07/24/my-reviews-the-stories-i-tell-my-friends/https://helloworld240.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/reviews-on-manners-matters-temple-talks-to-kids-series/https://helloworld240.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/reviews-video-modeling-visual-based-strategies-demonstrated-to-help-people-on-the-autism-spectrum/https://helloworld240.wordpress.com/2019/03/28/review-dogs-and-autism/

and more…

Future Horizon’s trademark for bloggers

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Having said that, I hope you have a chance to check out my youtube channel as well as my written information.https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvee5Vz_h9bsFTwXbU3_GdA?view_as=subscriber

Note that if you like what I am doing, please hit those subscribe buttons and give me thumbs up. Also share this with anyone in the autism community. Happy Autism Awareness Month and Autism Acceptance Month

Until next time, I’m Miyah Ryan

How to Create a Game Plan during the “Taking Flight” Airport Rehearsal Tours.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, now one of the business in the world, had its third annual, “Wings for Autism” airport rehearsal tour. event on April 11, 2018.  Since volunteering my time with the “Taking Flight: Autism Airport Rehearsal Tours” on a monthly basis, I was able to provide a lot of information to families.   Not only did I provide my monthly tips and advice by speaking over a PA inside the aircraft but I educated patrons who walked up to the registration table in the atrium at the domestic terminal as well. Though these rehearsal tours continue to move forward and open lots of new doors, much work still needs to be done.  In the meantime, families can take advantage of these tips when attending the airport for the tours and when they are traveling. Likewise, airport rehearsal tours are only offered once a month but a rehearsal goes beyond just meeting with airline team members and participating volunteers.  Rather, here are some helpful pointers that families can consider during their visits to an airport with their autistic loved ones.

Me at wings for autism sign
Me at the third Wings for Autism Event

First and foremost, since families receive special passes for each airport tour, not only can they attend the session but take time to exploring the airport.  In the midst of their exploration, I encourage families to take their loved one to a gate where passengers are boarding an aircraft.  When making observations, make sure you check out a few different airlines to compare and contrast the way airlines are boarded so an autistic has an idea of what to expect.  For example, Delta airlines boards by assigned seating and rows whereas Southwest boards by a random first come first serve.

 

A second tip is that autistics cannot have any surprises when learning about a new setting.  Otherwise, the environment would become a threat where they are expecting certain stimuli to set them off due to higher levels of fear and anxiety. Say the door alarm at a concourse gate and the buzzer at a baggage claim carousel.   In correspondence with Temple Grandin, she suggested that having headsets and earplug ready and worn at the gate and baggage claim.  I highly recommend doing so during time exploring each airport so that individuals get a better idea of what to expect.  To add to the surprise sensory list would be inside the bathrooms at the airport where toilets and automatic hand dryers could contribute to the stress of the airport.  Finally, families can take this time to walk through the airport while your loved one wears their headsets.

A third recommendation entails families stopping at a favorite restaurant outside of the airport and purchasing a bag full of their loved one’s choice.  From there, families can take their orders to a rehearsal tour and bring them while boarding an aircraft and have their loved one eat on a carrier.   Yet, if families didn’t bring food through security, I recommend finding an eatery such as McDonald’s or Chick-Fil-A and form a habit of taking that food to a nearby gate where an autistic can observe how each boarding process works.

Delta Flight Crews
Team Delta members at the end of a Taking Flight Rehearsal Tour at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.

 

Fourth, while at each gate, families can get a better idea of what special accommodations may be offered at each airline and airport.  Following the tour,  I recommend that caregivers and other supports speak to a customer service agent who can assist them in coming up with a game plan when it comes to boarding a plane and selecting the best seats in advance.  Families may also need to know which accommodations are offered at each airline.

Fifth,  while making observations of the boarding process, families can look up a flight beforehand  online or on overhead monitors and make note to practice traveling to that gate with their loved ones while rehearse paying attention to the time that passengers begin the boarding process, which is often 30 minutes prior.  Though not required but highly recommended, bring along laptops, mobile devices and other things that may keep a family busy watching movies.  To set examples, caregivers can get their own work done on their laptops, make phone calls while each autistic finds something that interests them.  Such examples include logging into wi-fi and watching a movie on google play, playing a game or even reading a book.  If there is a flight delay, families can practice letting the customer service agents know they are going to a quieter area but be finding someone to accommodate their needs until it’s boarding time.  At Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, located in Atlanta,  a sensory-friendly room is located at Concourse F, which is just outside the international terminal.  For those who live in Atlanta and participate in the “Taking Flight” rehearsal, which includes a visit to the sensory room can practice contacting a CSA so they can practice using the room for respite from the large jostling crowds and overwhelming stimuli.   Notwithstanding, only 2 out of 22,429 airports have sensory rooms which are only 8.29% of the airport population in the US.   At this point, finding a backup plan in a quiet area with fidgets, play-do, and items that block out major sensory issues can help decrease stress levels.  For example, Hartsfield Jackson has a transportation mall which not only provides an electric train but tunnels with art and moving walkways.   After each tour, I often prefer to walk through this area versus taking the train is that most can get crowded along with enjoying the art which is mounted in each well-lit tunnel.

Plane taking off

Sixth, while at the airport, families should find a gate where they can help their child observe a carrier being taxied, taking off and landing.  That way,  individuals will know what to expect when they fly for the first time.   Meanwhile, have lunch or a snack available all the while encouraging the individual to watch the process of a plane becoming airborne and showing them pictures of possible destinations such as Walt Disney World or pictures of Characters and landmarks related to Disney World.

A seventh and final recommendation, which was also suggested to me by Dr. Grandin which includes a video that shows passengers being patted down by TSA officers which can be shared with autistics. Once these videos are seen, families can practice patting down their loved ones.   One way to do that is to find an area inside the airport, past a checkpoint where caregivers can take content of officers patting down a few passengers and put them on their computers and televisions to show their loved ones and show it to them to a few times so each autistic will know they will be touched.  From there, families can practice patting the individual down so they know what to expect upon arrival at the airport.

In closing, I hope that you will find this blog helpful for families planning on attending an airport rehearsal tour. To do so, one can contact their local autism program providers or local airport and find out through the airport’s customer service or ADA coordinators to find out more information.

 

 

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Traveling through Hartsfield Jackson International Aiport.

On April 14, 2017, I attended my second “Wings for Autism” annual event in order to volunteer along with findings ways to help improve the rehearsals.   Whereas I signed up to get an overview of the whole process last year,  I signed up to volunteer this time around.    While the last meeting was 12 months earlier, I was more determined than ever to meet the right people in order to see this program get off the ground by way of major expansion.   Meanwhile, I managed to connect with an organization who not only works for Delta Airlines but also has a son with mild autism as well.  The pilot, who is the director and I both discussed that I was welcome to join the regularly monthly two-hour tours along with submitting my ideas written in my last blogs in bullet-pointed lists.   Correspondingly, I have followed suit.  Although I have provided Delta with a very expensive and time-consuming bottom-up way of expanding the program, I came to the complete realization that much observation from every angle needs to be taken.    For the time being, there are steps that families can take while inside Hartsfield Jackson whether in rehearsal or in on an official travel date.

 

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Wings for Autism Rehearsal Day 2017

With Hartsfield Jackson International being one of the busiest airports in the world,  I have simply learned that being in this airport for long periods can be very taxing.   Yet, there are many steps that one can take to keep the stress levels down.

First and foremost, it is recommended that one on the spectrum gets proper amounts of sleep the night before.   As someone who is on the spectrum and has flown a fair amount, I find that getting to bed early in order to get a good night sleep will help me function better in an extremely stressful environment.

The second recommendation for traveling and rehearsals is to eat a healthy breakfast that which can also help manage stress.  Once again, I have learned that I function better when I have had a meal with lots of protein before I travel.   On the other hand, it might be helpful to eliminate the sugar as much as possible as it can weaken the immune system for a long period of time.  This is especially since the airport has people from all walks of life coming from different corners of the US and the world for that matter.

A third recommendation is since Hartsfield Jackson is one of the busiest in air travels,  it’s going to often be crowded.   Since passengers often head from the main terminals to catch their flight, most will use the plane train, which can be crowded.  Yet, there is a second option that I highly recommend to passengers travelings with loved on the spectrum.   On the same level that one can catch the plane train,  one can use the tunnels which have regular and moving walkways.   Upon making observations after yesterday’s tour,  I took the plane train from concourse F to Concourse E so that I could walk through the tunnels.   Though an auto recording about using the moving walkways, it was otherwise quiet and less stressful.  What’s more is that individuals can avoid dealing with the flickering of the fluorescent lighting by using sunglasses and glasses with colored lenses if that is a problem.  Meanwhile, if the noise in the loudspeaker is a bother, using headphones and earplugs may help reduce stress as well.

 

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Delta Sign in Concourse E

 

 

A fifth recommendation that could help reduce stress levels for families and individuals would be to get to the airport as early as possible.  That way, an individual could become acclimated to the hustle and bustle of the airport.  All the way, finding a section of gates that are being unoccupied for a few hours between usages of departures and arrivals which can make the environment seem friendlier for one who struggles with lots of stimulation and sensory overload.   In the middle of the wait, the loved one could watch a movie on a tablet or laptop, play with a fidget spinner. play games,  eat a meal, stimulate or even watch airplanes take off.

Last but not least, Hartsfield Jackson Airport has a first of its kind sensory room in concourse F.  Though there are strict procedures to get inside this room, a family could get ahold of the airport in advance to let them know that they need the sensory room for a few hours. Though this room has mats, a bubble machine, and a ball pit,  I would recommend that each family brings a few stress balls, fidgets, and weighted blankets so their loved ones can benefit from the usage of this room.   That way, officials at the airport will be able to see the greater need and hopefully create and open other sensory rooms in each concourse being that Hartsfield Jackson is so large.  Beyond that, the world’s business airport.

While I am starting to share my input with family members as we speak, I realize that much more work needs to be done in order to help create a safer and more familiar environment for people with autism.   Though these tours only meet once a month, I recognize that we have not only changing the lives of others but also reshaping the way traveling has been done for many years.  What’s more is that these changes aren’t just happening in the airport but outside of them as well.