After much soul searching and consideration, we’re off on a 2-week adventure with the whole family – including our 14-year old son, Akiva who has Down syndrome and PDD. We chose a day flight – I hear you wondering why – in the hope that despite the long day in the air, Akiva would be less tired and therefore in a better mood and easier to manage. Try pulling along a tired and sleepy person with low tone at 1am.

So, armed with toys, music, books and movies on his iPad, as well as a laptop and pile of dvd’s to amuse him, we wait here in the airport to board. The airport was fortunately quiet this morning and we left on the early side so as to avoid lines. That worked well as did asking to check in on the business class line so that we didn’t have to wait too long with him – he was very excited and ready to touch and shake hands with everyone in the airport. The airline was amenable and even asked if we needed any other special services or assistance – good to keep in mind for a future trip once I see how this one works.

We have sandwiches and snacks but the big issue is surviving until we board. He just doesn’t understand why we haven’t boarded yet.  Okay, I get that. I’m ready to board too.

Now, off to buy some pretzels and a small toy or treat to surprise him with on the plane. Toileting has gone off successfully so far this morning  – that’s a relief too. Hopefully that will continue on board.

Asking for help is always a challenge as well. As a parent that’s always the biggest issue. I hesitate to ask for help as I’m sure it will all be okay and it goes against my American nature but I’m also growing convinced that asking helps people be aware of your needs. I’ll let you know if I’m good at that. Happily I’m traveling with my middle son, Gabe, who’s a good ‘asker.’ Wish me luck.

By Beth Steinberg, Shutaf Co-Founder
November 2011