When a TSA Agent Helped My Daughter Have a Successful Flight
This summer we decided to fly to Myrtle Beach to visit grandparents because driving that distance is overwhelming for my daughter, who is 19, has an intellectual disability and autism.
The trip there was relatively uneventful, a little stressful getting through security but we made it. There was some anxiety but we were fine when we got on the plane.
However, getting through TSA security on the way home was made delightful by TSA in Myrtle Beach. They have a program that allows you to call ahead and they will meet you and your family at the doors. They get you through with little to no wait and they attempt to make getting through security less stressful for you and your child. Our experience was fantastic.
An energetic, smiling TSA agent met us and introduced herself to me and my daughter. After asking a few relevant questions about our daughter, she proceeded to inform us she was going to make sure we had a pleasant trip from beginning to end. She took us to a private line to the side. She talked to my daughter the whole time, about her trip, the things I told her our daughter liked, my daughter’s shirt, everything. She made a game out of the whole experience building up the plane ride as exciting.
My daughter uses her transport chair when overwhelmed by places like airports. Undeterred, the agent said she didn’t have to get up, laughed, put on blue gloves and joked about Smurf hands. She “dusted” off my daughter’s shoes and “checked to make sure her socks matched.” The agent said we all needed to relax for the trip and gently patted down my daughter’s back, she pointed out the characters on her shirt while she gently tested the front — all the while talking to my daughter, who giggled.
My daughter usually has a stuffed animal and/or figure in her hand. The agent proceeded to place random objects on the “sniffer” and told my daughter she was approving them for flight and cleaning them. Then she asked if my daughter wanted to get her unicorn (stuffed animal of the day) approved and clean. She did, and I admit I was surprised. Then the agent wiped my daughter’s hands so she would be “clean,” too. She then “cleaned and approved” the transport chair without any complaint from our daughter. A brief game of “Simon Says” to get mommy through that made my daughter laugh. The she congratulated my daughter on doing such a good job for the TSA and thanked her!
All of this may have taken about five to seven minutes, we went to our gate all smiles and no stress.
I often see much negative about the TSA, but rarely any positive. The agent told me before we started, this program is supposed to be nationwide, and it trains specific agents in disability awareness. The goal is for agents to know how to deal with behaviors, if they arise, so they can relieve stress for passengers with disabilities and hopefully the flight is less stressful and traveling isn’t a horrific ordeal.
I hope this agent is an example of the whole program because it worked. I love they are determined to try to make it work, and this time, this agent worked hard and efficiently to serve us and I am so grateful!
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Thinkstock image by asiandelight