This is us a few days ago, on our way to a Krabi family vacation with my younger brother's family. We were a party of 12 and it was like a tour group. It was a short flight but Faith has a fear of flying and major sensory issues on planes. We know it is always a challenge, but we Improvise, Adapt and Overcome. And we step out with faith, surrounded by prayer.
This short video clip will give you an idea of how difficult it is for Faith to fly.
Before this, she stopped twice — once outside the aerobridge, and once outside the plane door — refusing to board until we reassured and consoled her.
Her autism makes her particularly sensitive to the sounds, G-forces and ear pressure of takeoff and landing.
If this happened a few years ago, we would be holding her down as she had a meltdown, trying to remove her seat belt and leave her seat. Once, on another trip, she lay down on the tarmac of Kuantan Airport, just in front of the Firefly plane, and refused to budge. We took a long time to get her on her feet to board the plane.
Over time, she has learned to cope and brave the sensory overload.
This trembling behavior you see in the video is both a form of stimming (self-soothing and modulation) and also the trembling of fear. We gave her a sweet to deal with the ear pressure, and my helper and I took turns to reassure her with touch, and joint compression. When the plane finally leveled out, she calmed down for the rest of the flight. She even took the Beats noise-canceling headphones off and returned them to me. She decided she didn’t need it anymore.
When we finally made it to the hotel, Faith had a huge grin on her face as she tucked herself into bed and rested under the compression of the blanket. That is her holiday bliss face. And her father also had the same grin seeing that happiness.