Airplanes and Airports

November 6, 2014
Three days after our return home, I am still not able to put our experiences in perspective. Four airports and four planes.
I did not ask for assistance with Robert. I thought that our previous two airplane trips to California proved that Robert could manage going through security without really alerting anybody to his special needs.
Wrong!
While going through Security at Logan Airport in Boston was not a problem, the small airport in Beauvais, France was a completely different story.
Everything started well. Robert went through the scanner gate without a problem. Unfortunately, when the security personnel returned our green backpack for another screening as I forgot to remove Ipad from it, Robert ran back to retrieve it. I had to run after him knowing that nobody else would convince him to leave the bag for another screening. Reluctantly, he let the bag and the Ipad go through, but then he had to go through the gate again. Except he had his wallet already in his packet. So he had to leave the wallet. That seemed wrong to him, after all he did that before. He took the wallet out, but didn’t want to leave it. I don’t remember how I convinced him to place the wallet in the bin again. But he did and he went through the scanner himself. I went after him. He calmed down when everything was in front of him. First he got his wallet, then jacket. he took upon himself to place Ipad in my bag. He gathered all bins and placed them in the pile.
I learned my lesson and in the next airport in Katowice, I remove my Ipad promptly. There was a problem with my small suitcase as it contained a metal box with a set of cards from Super Duper School Company, but Robert didn’t mind me opening that bag as he didn’t care too much for its content.
Back at the Charles De Gaul Airport, for reasons that are completely mystifying to me, Robert was singled out for another pat down just before entering airport. He took it with stoic attitude. I didn’t. I was wondering what in Robert’s behavior could provoke that additional scrutiny. And the only thing that come to mind was Robert repeating “dad, dad” over and over when his dad disappeared for a few minutes to buy him candies. Robert was anxious, very anxious. I was mad that Jan chose this moment to look for candies and risking being late for boarding.
Anyway, Robert’s repeating, “Dad, dad”, didn’t seem a good reason for an additional scrutiny. But maybe anything that seems out of ordinary is a reason for a scrutiny.
Maybe in other countries, the airports’ employees are less familiar with travelers with autism.
After thinking it over, I am glad that I did not ask for assistance. At least I could find out what are the possible problems and, in case, we travel again, prepare Robert for them. I don’t regret not asking for assistance. I am not sure I would get an appropriate one.
As for airplanes, only during the first take off, Robert got scared. He held my hand and requested, “Home, home.” In a few second he relaxed. Maybe because the plane lower the angle of flight, maybe because the perspective of sleeping in a hotel with a swimming pool was worth a short period of discomfort.

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