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KGRB
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Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 1:16 pm

This incident apparently occurred on May 5th and of course, the family and the airline have a different story to tell.

From ABC station WBAY-TV:

Quote:
The Beegles were flying back from DisneyWorld, and took a flight from Orlando to Houston with a connecting flight from Houston to Portland.

Beegle noticed a telltale sign from her daughter. She needed a hot meal, and Beegle offered to buy one from First Class.

She told KOIN 6 News she explained that if her daughter didn’t get a hot meal, she would “get to the meltdown point” and maybe scratch someone. Juliette soon got a first-class meal.

The flight diverted to SLC and UA rebooked the family on Delta to PDX.

Quote:
But another passenger had a different view, and told KOIN 6 News the flight crew was right to land in Salt Lake City and make the Beegle family get off.

Marilyn Hedlund said Juliette had been “howling” before the incident and the flight attendants had been working quietly with the family for nearly an hour before the pilot made the decision to make an emergency landing.

“There was a lot of howling, and we thought well, what’s going on? And it never stopped,” Hedlund said.

The whole story can be viewed here: http://wbay.com/2015/05/11/family-of...autistic-teen-told-to-leave-plane/

I have mixed feelings about this incident. On one hand, I feel great sympathy for the family and I can understand the hardship their daughter's disability places on their lives. However, with all of the known facts considered, it appears that the flight crew made the right call, especially if they believed the girl could cause physical harm to other passengers. The family discussing a lawsuit is preposterous, but unfortunately, UA will probably settle out of court and pay a large sum to the family, because that's the way this litigious society works.
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PDX88
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 1:43 pm

"It's not about the money."

It's so refreshing to see someone suing for the greater good for a change, just like the lady suing UA for $5 million because her PTV didn't work.  
 
jetwet1
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 1:57 pm

A miracle, but I have to side with UA on this one, yes there may have been an over reaction by the crew to some extent, but the mother knew the child would have issues if she didn't eat, she knew she would only eat hot food, so what does she do, she boards a plane and hands the problem off to UA.

Sorry, but no, I know in this modern society there is part of the population that thinks that they shouldn't have to deal with their own problems and issues, and in this case I really do feel sorry for the family, but the mother knew what was going to happen, it's her fault.
 
jetblue1965
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 1:59 pm

If anything, one should be suing the family instead for failing their parental responsibilities of controlling their daughter. The fact that they're even considering such a frivolous lawsuit makes me lose all sympathy for them.

Protection of equality does not come in front of safety.
 
jonathan-l
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 1:59 pm

I think this is all about "this girl caused discomfort and uneasiness to ther passengers" more than a safety concern.
Opening a door inflight? (quoted as a threat the girl posed) No chance

Our society needs to learn how to deal with autism and people with mental illness. Including on an airplane.
This girl was traveling with her family, who takes care of her day in and day out, and people probably pay little tribute to their daily caretaking.

Next thing you know, a rambunctious child who's "howling" (quote from the article) will also be booted off.

I'm sure the FA did alot (quote in the article) before the captain decided to divert and they probably handled it as best they could. But I'd venture the ultimate decision to divert was linked to giving other passengers a more pleasant flight.
 
threeifbyair
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 2:11 pm

Hard to place blame on the crew here. Safety is the first priority, even if in hindsight the diversion may not have been necessary.

Look at it from the FAs' perspective. They were already told that the girl "might scratch someone" and then despite their best efforts (getting an F meal for a Y pax), there is some sort of ongoing disruption. They have to worry that if they don't divert, the situation could deteriorate and someone could in fact get scratched. If the scratch victim is another passenger, UA would have a 100% legitimate lawsuit and the FAs would be in trouble for not requesting a diversion earlier. The captain is not going to ignore the judgment of the FAs.

What exactly is the loss for the family, though? A few hours of delay at worst. That's hardly worth suing for.

Quoting jonathan-l (Reply 4):
Opening a door inflight? (quoted as a threat the girl posed) No chance

Physically impossible, right? The pressure required would be far more than any human could exert, I think.
 
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Semaex
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 2:11 pm

Quote:
The plane made an emergency landing in Salt Lake City, and police forced the Beegles — Donna, her husband, Juliette and their son — off. United made a connection for them and they flew to Portland on a Delta flight.

I can't be the only one who finds this ironic to a certain kind of degree. Disruptive passenger? Oh well let the competition handle it.

Quote:
Donna Beegle has contacted an attorney and will likely file a lawsuit. She said it’s not about the money, it’s about providing training for people and dispelling fear about autism.

... oh that's so nice of her to donate all that out-of-court money to a charity!  
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 2:21 pm

Quoting jonathan-l (Reply 4):
Our society needs to learn how to deal with autism and people with mental illness. Including on an airplane.
This girl was traveling with her family, who takes care of her day in and day out, and people probably pay little tribute to their daily caretaking.

Next thing you know, a rambunctious child who's "howling" (quote from the article) will also be booted off.

Mentally ill passengers already is fact of life in the airline business.

Many years ago, I removed a family from a flight when the teenage daughter began screaming and issuing threats just after pushback. She had run away from home and the parents spent weeks tracking her down and were trying to take her home to get treatment. I truly felt bad for them and expressed my very sincere hope for help to the father as they deplaned.

As a captain, it was my duty to consider the other passengers, too.
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moo
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 2:27 pm

Quoting Semaex (Reply 6):
Donna Beegle has contacted an attorney and will likely file a lawsuit. She said it’s not about the money, it’s about providing training for people and dispelling fear about autism.

An yet the mother said this:

Quoting KGRB (Thread starter):
if her daughter didn’t get a hot meal, she would “get to the meltdown point” and maybe scratch someone

Surely there is a valid fear in this instance, as the mother herself indicated that the girl could become violent...?

If there is enough of a concern that the girl could become violent that even her mother voices that concern, then this is no longer about incorrect training and unwarranted fears, protection of other parties becomes an important consideration.

But hey, she has autism, which means she gets to do whatever she wants and should be untouchable, because .... autism!!!
 
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 2:35 pm

Quoting PDX88 (Reply 1):
"It's not about the money."

It's so refreshing to see someone suing for the greater good for a change, just like the lady suing UA for $5 million because her PTV didn't work.

So true. I wonder if the other passengers that were inconvenienced by the diversion will get a multi-million dollar payout as well?

Quoting threeifbyair (Reply 5):
Look at it from the FAs' perspective. They were already told that the girl "might scratch someone" and then despite their best efforts (getting an F meal for a Y pax), there is some sort of ongoing disruption. They have to worry that if they don't divert, the situation could deteriorate and someone could in fact get scratched. If the scratch victim is another passenger, UA would have a 100% legitimate lawsuit and the FAs would be in trouble for not requesting a diversion earlier. The captain is not going to ignore the judgment of the FAs.

I agree. Better to be safe than sorry in these types of cases.

Quoting jonathan-l (Reply 4):
Our society needs to learn how to deal with autism and people with mental illness. Including on an airplane.
This girl was traveling with her family, who takes care of her day in and day out, and people probably pay little tribute to their daily caretaking.

I agree that our society needs better awareness/understanding of mental illness and mental disabilities. With that being said, if the girl did threaten to scratch someone (which the family did admit), the Captain had no other choice than to divert. It's not as though they left them "high & dry" in SLC. The family was booked on a non-stop flight home.

Quoting Semaex (Reply 6):


I can't be the only one who finds this ironic to a certain kind of degree. Disruptive passenger? Oh well let the competition handle it.

It probably had more to do with the fact that the flight diverted to SLC and that's a Delta hub. There probably was no reasonable connection on UA to get them from SLC to PDX at that point in the day.
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Armodeen
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 2:53 pm

I'm with UA on this one. Sounds like they went above and beyond trying to help the family. I wonder if the family, aware of the girls requirement, informed UA before they travelled so they could arrange a hot meal and perhaps do whatever else possible to smooth their journey. I guess not given that they had to find a meal from F.
 
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 3:01 pm

Quoting moo (Reply 8):
If there is enough of a concern that the girl could become violent that even her mother voices that concern, then this is no longer about incorrect training and unwarranted fears, protection of other parties becomes an important consideration.

This. Once the mother told the F/A that the child may scratch someone, then it becomes more than just "a disruption". The crew has to take that seriously. I'd hate to think that the mother just made that up so she could get her a meal, but this day in age anything is possible.

Quoting jonathan-l (Reply 4):
But I'd venture the ultimate decision to divert was linked to giving other passengers a more pleasant flight.

I fail to see the correlation between arriving an hour or more late due to a diversion and a "more pleasant flight".   I'd gladly suffer through screaming pax instead of arriving that late.
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 3:06 pm

Agree with all of the above and want to add, does the parent not "get" that you can't just "buy" a pre-catered meal on board? The time to be asking THAT question is on the phone while making the reservation. I can't imagine a scenario in which an airline, with prior information, wouldn't make the accommodation for a passenger.
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 3:10 pm

Quoting moo (Reply 8):
But hey, she has autism, which means she gets to do whatever she wants and should be untouchable, because .... autism!!!

I'm not sure that I have been so infuriated at a member of this website since the days of ADG. I did not know that so much ignorance could be shown in one short sentence.
People with autism do not act that way because "they want to'. They do the very best they can for the way that their brains are hard wired. And the families that care for a loved one with autism do the best they can day by day to help them through all of these challenges. And it is hard enough and sad enough without the additional challenge of people who think that autism is a matter of being spoiled and that their families go through life feeling entited to "extras". You should thank God that you were not born with a brain that simply does not function the way that it should. Or maybe you were, I don't know to be honest. But my son has had, with few if any exceptions, fellow students in his Elementary and Jr. High schools that had the maturity to comprehend this concept. You should try to work up to that.

As to the case in point. I know what a teenage meltdown looks like with autism. I do not know enough about what happened on the flight to say definitively if United's actions were justified, or not. If it was indeed a frightening meltdown, I would expect cell phone video shortly.
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slcdeltarumd11
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 3:17 pm

I think it was just the perfect storm of an over reacting flight attendant and a tired/frustrated parent . Both overreacted here most likely. I do think it seems more like uniteds fault since passengers were not complaining which would have happened if the child was really disruptive.

Seems like the parent was the one who made the FA mad and the FA then wanted to show their power to get them kicked off the plane. Overall a pretty bad story, its bad that united would treat someone with autism like this, but the other hand UA did get them to Portland with not too long of a delay and the airline was told she may scatch someone. I wonder if they continued on Delta or AS?
 
jonathan-l
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 3:22 pm

Quoting FlyHossD (Reply 7):
As a captain, it was my duty to consider the other passengers, too

Thanks for your perspective. You have actually gone through the situation which is more than what can be said for most on this forum, including myself. I will readily admit I am neither the father of an autistic child, nor a pilot, nor a FA, nor have ever been on a passenger on a flight where something like this occurred.

I'd be curious as to how many of those giving peremptory statements are or have been in any of the above cases.
 
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 3:25 pm

Quoting slcdeltarumd11 (Reply 14):
I do think it seems more like uniteds fault since passengers were not complaining which would have happened if the child was really disruptive.

This quote explains why UA chose to divert:

Quoting KGRB (Thread starter):
She told KOIN 6 News she explained that if her daughter didn’t get a hot meal, she would “get to the meltdown point” and maybe scratch someone. Juliette soon got a first-class meal.

Whether passengers were complaining or not (which, if you read the article, you would see that they did), United has an obligation to do what it can to prevent a disruptive passenger from causing harm to a fellow customer or employee on board its aircraft.
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moo
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 3:27 pm

Quoting 4holer (Reply 13):
I'm not sure that I have been so infuriated at a member of this website since the days of ADG. I did not know that so much ignorance could be shown in one short sentence.
People with autism do not act that way because "they want to'. They do the very best they can for the way that their brains are hard wired. And the families that care for a loved one with autism do the best they can day by day to help them through all of these challenges. And it is hard enough and sad enough without the additional challenge of people who think that autism is a matter of being spoiled and that their families go through life feeling entited to "extras". You should thank God that you were not born with a brain that simply does not function the way that it should. Or maybe you were, I don't know to be honest. But my son has had, with few if any exceptions, fellow students in his Elementary and Jr. High schools that had the maturity to comprehend this concept. You should try to work up to that.

I can indeed thank God that I don't have a mis-wired brain, but that doesn't change my opinion as voiced before.

Yes, this person has an issue not of her own fault, and yes she has no control over it - no, that doesn't mean they get to do whatever they do, whenever they do it, regardless of those around them. And that is the way that this girls mother is coming across - she has autism, and thus there should have been no diversion, she should not have been dumped from the flight, she should have essentially been allowed to continue as she was - loud, disruptive, with a potential for violence - for as long as it takes for her to calm her self down.

Sorry, but no - autism or not, she is still bound by social acceptabilities. Sure, in her case, those acceptabilities may be looser than for other people, but there are still boundaries to those acceptabilities.

Scream, shout, hollor, yell all you want. There comes a point at which, autism or not, you should be dealt with.

But no - the immediate issue that the mother went to was "she has autism". As if that excuses *everything*. Sorry, no it doesn't. It gives some leeway, but that leeway can expire and in this case it did.

And for the record, I don't think that autism is just people being spoiled and feeling entitled - but I also don't feel that autism entitles someone to an unlimited amount of special accommodation far above and beyond a non-autistic person in the same situation. In this case, the mother outright said her lawsuit would be about "dispelling fear about autism" - sorry, but that right there indicates that she thinks that autistic persons should have unlimited leeway in life, regardless of what is going on around them.

I am disappointed with some of the language you used in your reply, but it doesn't change my position or stance - autism is not a "get out of jail free" card, boundaries still exist.
 
n92r03
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 3:36 pm

Quoting KGRB (Reply 16):
She told KOIN 6 News she explained that if her daughter didn’t get a hot meal, she would “get to the meltdown point” and maybe scratch someone. Juliette soon got a first-class meal.

I watched a news interview with the mom earlier today. In her own words she says she told the FA that unless the daughter got a hot meal, not a warm meal, then she would have a meltdown. She went on to say something to the effect of "do you really want that on your hands?" Looks opportunistic to me. Sad, the parents really need to be proactive.
 
eaa3
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 3:41 pm

Quoting slcdeltarumd11 (Reply 14):
....tthe airline was told she may scatch someone.

What is wrong with you people. Is common sense not a thing anymore. What kind of society so we live in when we can't handle the fact that a kid with autism might scratch someone if they get mad. It's not a big deal. Using this logic they should simply deny every kid with autism or developmental challenges the right to fly.

It's also pathetic that United is so scared of getting sued that they throw all common sense out the window. I feel like common sense has been removed from the standard operating procedure of most American companies for fear of lawsuits etc.

If United is going to carry the general population then they will have to deal with many developmentally challanged people on a continuing basis and the fact is that a person like that might react badly to stimulant and scratch someone should surprise no one. If United can't deal with that then they should make it clear that developmentally challanged people, that could potentially scratch people, are not welcome on their planes.

United deserves to get sued big time for this. It's discrimination. The mother wasn't making a threat on behalf of her daughter. She was stating the obvious about a child with autism.
 
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moo
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 3:46 pm

Quoting eaa3 (Reply 19):
What kind of society so we live in when we can't handle the fact that a kid with autism might scratch someone if they get mad. It's not a big deal

Want to gamble with someones eyesight? Scratching doesn't just stop with a mark on the skin - an uncontrolled child can easily put someones eye out permanently. My wife has seen that at A&E quite a few times in her years as a doctor.

Hows that for common sense? Scratching still doesn't sound like "a big deal"?

Quoting eaa3 (Reply 19):
United deserves to get sued big time for this. It's discrimination. The mother wasn't making a threat on behalf of her daughter. She was stating the obvious about a child with autism.

Oh here we go, wah wah wah discrimination wah wah wah. Wheres *your* common sense?
 
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 3:47 pm

Quoting jonathan-l (Reply 4):
Our society needs to learn how to deal with autism and people with mental illness.

Well said. We still have a long way to go. There are ample examples in this thread alone of those who don't seem to understand how mental illness works.

Quoting Semaex (Reply 6):
I can't be the only one who finds this ironic to a certain kind of degree. Disruptive passenger? Oh well let the competition handle it.

It reminds me of Homer Simpson's campaign slogan: "Can't someone else do it?"

Quoting 4holer (Reply 13):

  

Quoting moo (Reply 17):

In other words, you really don't understand how autism works...

[Edited 2015-05-11 08:49:32]
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 3:51 pm

Quoting eaa3 (Reply 19):
United deserves to get sued big time for this. It's discrimination.

How, pray tell, did United discriminate against this girl or her family? They fulfilled their contract to provide air transportation to the ticketed destination. It's not discrimination at all.
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 3:53 pm

Quoting jonathan-l (Reply 4):
I think this is all about "this girl caused discomfort and uneasiness to ther passengers" more than a safety concern.
Opening a door inflight? (quoted as a threat the girl posed) No chance

Yes, we know that she would be unable to open the door, but if she tried and failed, what would she then do? Or what if that was just one threat that goes through someone's head and they don't voice the others? It is an unpredictable situation, with the potential for danger. Land the plane, end the situation. Correct choice.
 
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moo
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 3:55 pm

Quoting OA412 (Reply 21):
In other words, you really don't understand how autism works...

I don't need to know how it works - we have here a disruptive passenger and a mother who claimed her daughter could get violent if not mollified.

But yes, I know how autism works thanks.

Heres a question for you - in the case of a potentially violent, disruptive person with autism, where do *you* put the boundaries on the acceptability of their behaviour? Because I'm assuming you aren't saying that they should not have boundaries of acceptable behaviour, right? They wouldn't be allowed to run up and down the aisle punching, kicking and biting other passengers because they have autism, right? They wouldn't be allowed to physically attack another passenger because they have autism, right? Scream at the top of their voice with the power of an adults lungs for an hour non-stop? So where do you set the boundaries?

I'm sorry that she has autism, and I feel for her parents, but it doesn't excuse her or her parents from all boundaries of acceptable behaviour.

I'm about to lose the battery on my laptop, so I might not be able to reply until tomorrow, but I shall be awaiting your reply with baited breath...
 
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 3:58 pm

Quoting KGRB (Reply 22):
How, pray tell, did United discriminate against this girl or her family? They fulfilled their contract to provide air transportation to the ticketed destination. It's not discrimination at all.

AND.. Did their best to avoid any form of negligence to other passengers. I feel like the FA and Captain may have overreacted, but after watching News Clips this morning, I can see how the mother, the mother, not the girl, may feel a bit entitled here.
 
billreid
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 4:01 pm

Quoting jonathan-l (Reply 4):
I'm sure the FA did alot (quote in the article) before the captain decided to divert and they probably handled it as best they could. But I'd venture the ultimate decision to divert was linked to giving other passengers a more pleasant flight.

[quote=threeifbyair,reply=5]Hard to place blame on the crew here. Safety is the first priority, even if in hindsight the diversion may not have been necessary.

What safety risk did this girl and her family create? Diverting because a autistic girl wants a hot meal??

Quoting threeifbyair (Reply 5):
What exactly is the loss for the family, though? A few hours of delay at worst. That's hardly worth suing for.

So what about all the passengers who were also delayed due to the diversion. What was the lesser of the evils. Perhaps the pilot and crew need to answer a series of questions.
1. Did the girl and her mother create a "True" safety risk? Yes / No
2. Would the passengers have preferred to go directly to the final destination without an extra stop? Yes / No
3. Did the diversion cost UAL thousands of dollars in additional fuel burn, landing fees, crew time? Yes / No

Quoting FlyHossD (Reply 7):
As a captain, it was my duty to consider the other passengers, too.

So if we have a 300 pound passenger sitting next to a regular passenger creating a truly uncomfortable situation should we expect the crew to divert the flight to make me more comfortable?

Quoting n92r03 (Reply 18):
I watched a news interview with the mom earlier today. In her own words she says she told the FA that unless the daughter got a hot meal, not a warm meal, then she would have a meltdown. She went on to say something to the effect of "do you really want that on your hands?" Looks opportunistic to me. Sad, the parents really need to be proactive.

UAL crew need to learn to manage their flight operations based on situational analysis. The crew needed to determine the level of risk to the flight. In this case any honest non-egotistical person can see that no safety risk existed.
When you put over 150 people in a tin can there is always someone who is outside their comfort zone. This doesn't mean you divert or take drastic action. Instead you find solutions to the challenges you face.
The issues with UAL are coming up time and time again, just as the person who was thrown of his flight for taking a photo of his seat. Common sense needs to prevail instead of being way way over the top. This situation lacks common sense from UAL's actions.
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eaa3
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 4:04 pm

Quoting moo (Reply 20):
Want to gamble with someones eyesight? Scratching doesn't just stop with a mark on the skin - an uncontrolled child can easily put someones eye out permanently. My wife has seen that at A&E quite a few times in her years as a doctor.

Yes, a reaction from an autistic child can cause harm to another person. What's your point. We don't ban autistic children from flights because there is a possibility that they would react badly to stimulation. She wasn't actually doing anything. It was just the fact that she could do something, which is obvious. That's why this is discrimination. It wasn't the fact that she was doing anything. It was the fear that an autistic child could do something that prompted this whole thing.

Quoting KGRB (Reply 22):
How, pray tell, did United discriminate against this girl or her family? They fulfilled their contract to provide air transportation to the ticketed destination. It's not discrimination at all.

Fulfilling their contract and not discriminating does not go together. Getting them from A to B doesn't mean that discrimination didn't happen.
 
jreuschl
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 4:09 pm

Flight 1525 on UA is actually MCO - IAH and landed at 1:02PM. UA 285 was the diversion flight and it left at 6:21PM.

I'm sorry.. if your child needs a HOT meal, that is way more than enough time to find food in the airport. Heck, there's enough time to take a taxi to a local restaurant of their choosing and check back in.

I feel for the family and I cannot imagine the daily stress of having a child with autism, but they can help, too.

I know there are two sides to every issue and maybe the UA crew did overreact to the scratch comment, but the hot meal should not have been requested in the first place.

[Edited 2015-05-11 09:11:05]
 
pnwtraveler
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 4:11 pm

For anyone who is knowledgeable about Autism this is much more to this story than on the surface. Autism is a broad spectrum disorder that manifests itself in many ways. UA is not a mental health expert who can make a judgement call on the spot whether the girl who was howling and in the families words, "could scratch someone", is capable of violence. Some autistic patients can harm themselves and others. Violence is one of the possible outcomes. There is no way that a flight crew would know where the line is until too late. Other autistic children or adults act out in other ways that are more internal and no threat to anyone. The charity I am Chair of the Board of Directors has programs for mentally and physically challenged children and adults so I know autism very well. Each child/adult is a little different despite the common ground.

Now obviously the family knew in advance that their daughter was capable of meltdowns if she didn't get her way. A hot meal seems a very specific and somewhat an odd thing but not out of the scope of possibilities. So why wasn't the family prepared? Why didn't they have a meal before the flight? Why didn't they prearrange with the airline to have a family brought meal that could be heated easily? If I were to hazzard a wild guess, I presume this family goes out of their way to short circuit a meltdown, maybe even to the point of being an enabler. Basically I hang a huge amount of the fault to the family. Noodle cups or other quick hot food should have been in their carry on bags. Just add water would be so simple. Something doesn't add up here, but my point is the family knows what sets the girl off and should be prepared.

Airlines seldom pack many extra First or J Class meals. Last minute upgrades are often allowed to under the provision they may get an economy meal. And even more remote is lets spend money packing an extra meal in case a parent of an autistic child demands one.

I wasn't on the flight and if the hour of howling is accurate and there is the possibility of danger to the crew or other passengers, then that is the call they have to make in the air. As I have said, violence is not an unusual symptom.
 
4holer
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 4:17 pm

Quoting n92r03 (Reply 18):
I watched a news interview with the mom earlier today. In her own words she says she told the FA that unless the daughter got a hot meal, not a warm meal, then she would have a meltdown. She went on to say something to the effect of "do you really want that on your hands?" Looks opportunistic to me. Sad, the parents really need to be proactive.

I do not believe that she was being "opportunistic" here, and I'm not really sure what you mean by that in this case. What I do believe is that the mother was succinctly stating a fact, that there is the potential for a meltdown but that we can avoid it by acting now, which is in everyone's best interest/comfort. So in that respect she was being proactive. But I would also state that if my child had such a requirement for hot food only, I would have worked with the airline ahead of time to account for this possibility, so she failed in being truly proactive considering her daughter's needs. But once the ball was rolling onboard, it is difficult to fix without providing the missing piece to her puzzle.

Quoting moo (Reply 17):
Sorry, but no - autism or not, she is still bound by social acceptabilities. Sure, in her case, those acceptabilities may be looser than for other people, but there are still boundaries to those acceptabilities

It is also the norm to have eyesight. Stating that blindness is not considered "acceptable" does not change the reality of the disability. Nor does hiding them away in homes so that unaffected people do not have to deal with them.

Quoting moo (Reply 17):
But no - the immediate issue that the mother went to was "she has autism". As if that excuses *everything*. Sorry, no it doesn't. It gives some leeway, but that leeway can expire and in this case it did.

If the daughter was aggressive to other passengers, I might agree. But to my knowlege she wasn't. And mom stating that her child has autism is not intended as an excuse, but an important bit of information as to what the situation is and what would be an appropriate course of action. And on a more basic level, it informs those nearby that this noisy person on the plane has no desire to storm the cockpit, etc.

Quoting moo (Reply 17):
Yes, this person has an issue not of her own fault, and yes she has no control over it - no, that doesn't mean they get to do whatever they do, whenever they do it, regardless of those around them. And that is the way that this girls mother is coming across - she has autism, and thus there should have been no diversion, she should not have been dumped from the flight, she should have essentially been allowed to continue as she was - loud, disruptive, with a potential for violence - for as long as it takes for her to calm her self down.

So if she was just sitting there, crying, sobbing, or making sounds, she should be "dumped"?

Quoting moo (Reply 17):
I am disappointed with some of the language you used in your reply,

Right back atcha.
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oly720man
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 4:18 pm

It does seem that this could have been organised better by the family had they advised the airline ahead of time that they were travelling with a child with autism and life would be a lot happier for everyone if a hot meal could be provided, rather than, as seems to have happened, hoping for the best and then getting touchy about things when at 30 odd thousand feet and said child looking like she was heading for her meltdown.

Would it be considered "discriminatory" should UA alter their present rules, below, to indicate that people with (medical) conditions who may have the potential become disruptive in flight should advise the airline accordingly so that suitable accommodations could be made. There are already rules for others.

http://www.united.com/web/format/pdf/Contract_of_Carriage.pdf

Knowledge and communication would be a lot better than being faced with an unknown quantity in the middle of a flight and there are enough issues with drugs, alcohol, panic attacks and peanut allergies to cause disruptions.

Airlines can be "autism friendly" as long as they know and can put plans in place for a certain flight.
wheat and dairy can screw up your brain
 
bennett123
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 4:21 pm

The OP indicates contact between the family and the crew for about an hour.

Not clear how far into that period the daughter received the hot meal.

Also not clear if the daughter was disruptive before, during or after having the hot meal.

I do wonder how much hassle there is for the crew in diverting.

In answer to your question, I would rather divert before an air rage incident, rather than react to it after someone got hurt.
 
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 4:23 pm

Quoting eaa3 (Reply 27):
Fulfilling their contract and not discriminating does not go together. Getting them from A to B doesn't mean that discrimination didn't happen.

That is true, however you have not been able to describe where the so-called "discrimination" took place.
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AWACSooner
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 4:36 pm

This is one time I will actually defend UA on this...for several reasons:
1. The family should have said something to the FA's the moment they boarded. What did you expect the FA to say when the situation was blowing up in your face? Identifying the problem before it got to that point would have drastically reduced, if not avoided, this situation from happening.
2. If she needed a hot meal,buy it yourself and bring it aboard!!! Sweet lord, if your child has special needs like that, it is up to YOU to cater to them, not the airline. You think UA (or any US airline, for that matter) will carry extra meals other than what the F capacity is?
3. From the mother herself, according to the article:
"She told KOIN 6 News she explained that if her daughter didn’t get a hot meal, she would “get to the meltdown point” and maybe scratch someone."
That's a threat...pure and simple. Time to land and let them cool off.



For once, United doesn't owe anyone jack squat regarding this news piece! This screams "looking for a quick buck."

[Edited 2015-05-11 09:38:08]
 
pnwtraveler
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 4:38 pm

After reading a few more posts, there are a lot of opinions on here with people siding with the family or the airline. The bulk of the opinions express a real ignorance of Autism and people just assuming and spouting nonsense. The bulk of posters actually don't have a clue what they are talking about.

I neither am saying that it is easy to deal with someone with autism. That family deserves a metal for dealing on a day in and day out dealing with this condition the daughter has. It isn't the daughters fault either. Far easier would be for them to institutionalize the child and sometimes that is the best choice. Those who don't are taking the hard road and hopefully the best road. Being prepared is the suspension the car needs to travel that road. My criticism is about the lack of preparation for the "hot meal" since it seems like a regular thing since the family knew immediately what was necessary. A HUGE part of Autism can be the texture of the food and the individual being very very fussy what they eat.

One of the programs we run is designed to expand the tastes and get autistic children to try new foods. Colour and texture can immediately cross a food off the list and getting a child to eat healthy can be impossible. These kids grew sweet potatoes from seed. They nurtured the plants. At harvest they tasted the cooked product. 90% of the kids would not touch mashed, cubed or any other sweet potato. 90% of the kids wolfed down baked sweet potato fries with minimal oil used for them to brown. All due to texture and colour. That is just one example of how difficult life with an autistic child can be, but there are ways around the barriers. Gambling that a hot meal and one that is acceptable is available boggles my mind. Not at all consistent with parents who have to have their wits about them dealing with this condition.

One of our children hits people he likes. He constantly is bruising his father. We met and he took a shine to me. The bulk of those hits could be called love taps but those easily and frequently escalate to very hard hits. The goal is to predict the hard ones and either move or short circuit the response. When he gets out of control the hits are enough to badly hurt a weaker person and then escalate to him hitting his own head in between very hard. To those that seem to be able to read the child in the story over the internet and think violence is inconceivable are just blowing smoke in the air with no real clue.

This thread has rapidly become instead of learning from the original story, instead a case study how people react to a story and how instant experts people think they can become.
 
eaa3
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 4:39 pm

Quoting KGRB (Reply 33):
That is true, however you have not been able to describe where the so-called "discrimination" took place.

The discrimination took place because they were thrown off the flight because of the fear of an autistic reaction that didn't happen. The mother didn't threaten anything. She just told them how autism worked. They were thrown of the flight because the kid had autism but not because she was behaving badly.
 
qf002
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 4:46 pm

I seems to me that this woman actually owes UA a huge debt of gratitude for putting the comfort of her daughter ahead of their schedule or the cost of a diversion.

If the daughter really had been on the verge of a meltdown (howling for over an hour and whatnot) then she was clearly in a great deal of distress and getting her off the plane and into the terminal where she could get some space and the food that she needed was almost certainly the best possible thing for her own health/safety at that time.

Quoting eaa3 (Reply 27):
She wasn't actually doing anything. It was just the fact that she could do something, which is obvious. That's why this is discrimination. It wasn't the fact that she was doing anything. It was the fear that an autistic child could do something that prompted this whole thing.

I don't know about you, but I would call having a meltdown (or being in a state where one is imminent) and howling for a prolonged period as "doing something". It's not as if the family were sat there quietly minding their own business then UA diverted because they suddenly found out that the daughter was autistic.

Anybody boarding a UA flight could scratch or injure anybody else on that flight. If UA were to discriminate based on the ability to scratch/injure then their planes would be empty.

In this case, they were responding to a situation where they had been told specifically that there was a high risk that a passenger would scratch/injure somebody else (or themselves). That's no different IMO to responding to a drunk or abusive passenger, or does a diversion in that situation mean that UA is discriminating against alcoholics?
 
jetwet1
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 4:59 pm

Quoting jonathan-l (Reply 4):
Our society needs to learn how to deal with autism and people with mental illness.

Very true.

Quoting eaa3 (Reply 19):
What is wrong with you people. Is common sense not a thing anymore. What kind of society so we live in when we can't handle the fact that a kid with autism might scratch someone if they get mad. It's not a big deal. Using this logic they should simply deny every kid with autism or developmental challenges the right to fly.

Sorry, but you lose that argument the moment you say it is okay for a child to scratch someone, let's just throw this out there, I am on blood thinners, when I cut or scratch myself I bleed like a pig, do you really want a bio situation on a plane ? It can happen, the airline has the responsibility to look after all it's passengers.

Quoting pnwtraveler (Reply 29):
For anyone who is knowledgeable about Autism this is much more to this story than on the surface. Autism is a broad spectrum disorder that manifests itself in many ways.

Yes it does, more to follow.

Quoting 4holer (Reply 30):
And mom stating that her child has autism is not intended as an excuse, but an important bit of information as to what the situation is and what would be an appropriate course of action

Which would have helped if she had told UA when booking the tickets, rather than at 30,000 ft over Utah.

Okay, to follow on....

When the wife and I decided to get married, a friend of hers said sorry she couldn't make it, this upset my wife, the friend and I got talking about a week out, it turned out that she had no one to look after child, who is autistic and she didn't want to fly with him. I ended up arranging for the wife and I to fly down to PHX, meet them and fly back to LAS.

When booking the tickets I explained to US the situation and that really, there was nothing to be done except notifying the flight crew.

The sons main issue is, there are times when he sees something, he wants to hold it, not play with it, not break it, just hold it and look at it, as pnwtraveler says, autism comes in many forms, in this case it is very mild, but, if the child doesn't get to hold what he wants, it's nasty, i've seen it, so from that point of view I can understand were the lady is coming from.

Before we boarded, we were called to the podium, the Captain wanted to talk to us, he clearly wanted to check the situation for himself and I can't say I blame him for that. We boarded first, took our seats in the back row, the child who was 4 at the time was loving his first trip on a plane, while his mother and my wife got him settled a light bulb went off, there could be an issue during the safety demo, what do kids love, bright things...like life jackets !

I talked to the FA, who called the purser who had already talked to the captain, I explained my fears so they understood what could happen and we would do our best to distract the child. Well of course, during the demo he spots the nice bright yellow vest and reaches out for it, the FA without missing a beat, takes it off and hands it to him, she grabs another demo one out of the bin and carries on with safety briefing, the child spent the flight looking at the vest, the flight went peacefully.

Anyways, long winded I know, but I just wanted to point out a couple of things.

If you let the airline know, they will make accommodations.

If you let the crew know ahead of time, they will work with you, they are human, some are mothers, as we sometimes on this site tend to treat the crews like objects, I am happy to see the majority of posters in this thread not do that, I am sure that the FA in question on the UA flight would have much preferred not to be put in that situation.
 
billreid
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 5:01 pm

Quoting pnwtraveler (Reply 35):
This thread has rapidly become instead of learning from the original story, instead a case study how people react to a story and how instant experts people think they can become.

You are correct.
This is why I said the crew needed to do a better job at situational awareness.
Intuitively I do not think a diversion was in order because the situation appears on the surface not to justify that level of action.
Crew needed to ask themselves three fundamental questions:
1. Was the flight and passengers at risk?
2. Was the passenger(s) so disruptive that the flight could no longer continue on to its destination.
3. Did the crew lose control of the cabin and the situation?

If the answer is YES to questions one or two then the diversion was in order.
If the answer is YES to question three only then UAL needs to assess why and work on training and knowledge.
If the answer is NO to all three then crew made the wrong decision and corrective action is in order.
Some people don't get it. Business is about making MONEY!
 
dmg626
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 5:13 pm

This family should consider other means of travel in the future, being confined in an aircraft for hours on end is not for everybody.
 
bourbon
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 5:18 pm

Quoting eaa3 (Reply 27):

If that child caused physical harm to me (especially to my eyes) because of a "melt down" there would be a medical diversion and a fat lawsuit against the parents of that child filed by me. flight attendants and pilots are not mental health officials and parents and other family members need to realize that.
It sure seems United tried everything they could to avoid negative press and rectify the situation before diverting.
 
bennett123
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 5:20 pm

billreid

If the "Meltdown" resulted in her assaulting another passenger, then 1 and/or 2 are probably yes.

Also, did getting the hot meal change her behaviour. Surely, that is the key point.
 
bond007
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 5:21 pm

Quoting pnwtraveler (Reply 35):
After reading a few more posts, there are a lot of opinions on here with people siding with the family or the airline. The bulk of the opinions express a real ignorance of Autism and people just assuming and spouting nonsense. The bulk of posters actually don't have a clue what they are talking about.

Actually this has very little to do with Autism itself, and you do not require to be an expert on the disorder to make an educated comment on it. There was a disruption in the cabin, that the captain thought was a potential safety issue and "made the best decision for the safety and comfort of all of our customers and elected to divert to Salt Lake City after the situation became disruptive."

Quoting eaa3 (Reply 36):
She just told them how autism worked.

No, she was quite specific on might happen ...hardly explaining how autism works:

Quoting KGRB (Thread starter):
She told KOIN 6 News she explained that if her daughter didn’t get a hot meal, she would “get to the meltdown point” and maybe scratch someone.

Let's not use this as a pro- or anti-autism issue - there was a disruption and the captain elected to land the plane. It could have been a screaming women, a drunk passenger..etc.etc.

Jimbo
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FlyHossD
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 5:30 pm

Quoting billreid (Reply 26):
So if we have a 300 pound passenger sitting next to a regular passenger creating a truly uncomfortable situation should we expect the crew to divert the flight to make me more comfortable?

Wow. That doesn't even reach the level of speciousness. Further, it's irrelevant to the question at hand.

By the way, over the years, I was faced with several such situations. Generally, we dealt with them by moving a small passenger (sometimes a child) next to the larger person. Further, I'm just such a passenger and near 300 pounds; I don't flow over into other the space of other passengers.

Quoting billreid (Reply 26):
What safety risk did this girl and her family create?

Her mother claimed that the girl might scratch someone (another passenger).
My statements do not represent my former employer or my current employer and are my opinions only.
 
alfa164
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 5:34 pm

Quoting pnwtraveler (Reply 35):

After reading a few more posts, there are a lot of opinions on here with people siding with the family or the airline. The bulk of the opinions express a real ignorance of Autism and people just assuming and spouting nonsense.

Not everyone here is ignorant of the issues, and not everyone is assuming and spouting nonsense.

Quoting pnwtraveler (Reply 29):

For anyone who is knowledgeable about Autism this is much more to this story than on the surface.
Quoting pnwtraveler (Reply 29):
Now obviously the family knew in advance that their daughter was capable of meltdowns if she didn't get her way. A hot meal seems a very specific and somewhat an odd thing but not out of the scope of possibilities. So why wasn't the family prepared? Why didn't they have a meal before the flight? Why didn't they prearrange with the airline to have a family brought meal that could be heated easily? If I were to hazzard a wild guess, I presume this family goes out of their way to short circuit a meltdown, maybe even to the point of being an enabler. Basically I hang a huge amount of the fault to the family. Noodle cups or other quick hot food should have been in their carry on bags. Just add water would be so simple. Something doesn't add up here, but my point is the family knows what sets the girl off and should be prepared.

         Amen. The parents - knowing that problems could occur - could have and should have made plans and preparations to avoid them. Obviously, they did not.

Quoting jetwet1 (Reply 38):
If you let the airline know, they will make accommodations.
If you let the crew know ahead of time, they will work with you, they are human, some are mothers, as we sometimes on this site tend to treat the crews like objects, I am happy to see the majority of posters in this thread not do that, I am sure that the FA in question on the UA flight would have much preferred not to be put in that situation.

         Thank you for your post. It is unfortunate that the parents here didn't take the same responsibility. Allowing the flight crew to know the potential problems, and making them a part of the solution, is far better than allowing the problem to escalate in flight then blame the crew for not being prepared.
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IAHWorldflyer
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 5:42 pm

As a society, we've moved forward by leaps and bounds as to how we treat people who are "different" from the norm in the last 50 or 60 years. This has made people less fearful of those who are different from themselves, and made life much easier, and probably, fulfilling for those who suffer from disabilities.
That said, caregivers of people who are different sometimes need to assess the needs of those in their care and tell themselves that not everything is possible for their charge. In this girl's case, hours of cross country travel might not have been something this child was up to. The article says they were coming home to PDX from MCO. That's a long flight time. Maybe too long for her. Yes, it's nice to think their child is like every other child and can handle 5+ hours of air transport, and the confinement that comes with that, but maybe it's not the reality.
It seems like the UA flight attendants did try to make accommodations to this family. I applaud that. Maybe the family should have accommodated their daughter by saying to themselves that a cross country plane ride wasn't the best thing, and going on a shorter trip would bring their daughter just as much joy as going to Orlando.
 
nwray
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 5:55 pm

We traveled with our autistic son several times when he was young, and never made his situation anyone's responsibility except our own. Flight crews are very intuitive, and my son was the recipient of kindness from crews on several occasions, which I will never forget.
 
ECFlyer
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 8:01 pm

You really never know what the future holds.

After many years of frequent travel I became a father ten years ago. I was not particularly tolerant of loud kids and anybody creating an externality up to that point. The old saw that their are only two kinds of people in the world: parents and children.

Along with the usual transition to parenthood of sleeplessness and diapers, we found out at about age 2.5 that our daughter had autism. I.e. not bad behavior or parenting, but a profound sensory inability to understand and communicate like most of us take for granted.

We are a traveling family. We are resourceful, and we ask for the minimum necessary to smooth our trips. The trips themselves have made follow-on trips progressively easier. Anything of substance that we need to accommodate our daughter we pay for or offer to pay for--mostly it's just early boarding and we don't even need that so much anymore as she learns more coping skills.

About 80% of humanity gets it, 18% not so much, and maybe 1-2% appear to have their own disorders but masquerade as "normal". There are some really crumby people in the world, but we don't need to be talking autism to know that. We've been more often astonished by simple acts of kindness.

There is much in the mother's account that is right out of Autism 101. Usually, a cascade of factors will get your kid to meltdown state. That state is very difficult--the frustration floodgates basically open and in most setting the caregiver can only try to keep the person safe until the state subsides. Much of the teaching that goes into autism therapy is in PREVENTING that state, but once in a meltdown it's hard to short-circuit. Drugs to help acute situations exist, but are hard as parents to acquire due to fear of abuse. We did once have a prescription JUST for air travel, but did not need to use it. It was comforting to have in my pocket as a last resort.

Almost all the gate staff and F/As that we have discreetly informed of our daughter's issue have been great. A small minority have been remarkably unaccommodating. That lack of flexibility on their part is one factor that can make the autistic person's travel experience get off track. In the end most of this is common sense and empathy on ALL sides (parents included).
 
sevenfeet
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RE: Girl With Autism Causes Diversion Of UA1535

Mon May 11, 2015 8:03 pm

This situation wasn’t that tricky. The flight attendants and pilots overreacted. First of all, most of you have no idea what it’s like to raise an autistic child. My 11-year old son has Tuberous Sclerosis and half of those kids wind up autistic (no one knows why yet). Food issues (linked with sensory processing disorder) are a lot more common with kids like this and my son has always had food issues. I’ve read some online comments that think this is just a situation of a bratty weird child with parents who chose not to control them. Nothing could be further than the truth. Talk to any of us, or the teachers or professionals who care for them. For example, when my son was in pre-school, he wouldn’t eat anything but oatmeal for two years. It took trained food therapists to break him of that.

My son has flown on over 40 takeoffs and landings in his life. He enjoys flying and has been well behaved on nearly all of his flights. But one of his more recent flights a little over a year ago was much like the United flight in question. As his parents, we plan ahead with him going back to the original reservation. We always try to bring appropriate food and snacks with him and organize layovers around food choices in airports. But on this trip in question, the originating flight was late in arriving and my wife (who was accompanying my son) had to sprint to the next flight to make it (nearly missing it). The layover was designed by me in the schedule to feed my son, which didn’t happen, and my wife was out of his snacks (consumed on the first flight). As a result, my son became crying and screaming due to a caloric crash he was beginning to suffer from. This went on for half an hour. Did the Delta flight attendants panic? No. They found something that my son would eat (not easy considering his pickiness and that it’s harder to feed him during the meltdown). It worked and he remained calm for the rest of the flight (4 hours total).

For F/As, it’s all a matter of training. These kids are never in exit rows where they can mess with exit doors (and you cannot physically open them anyway at altitude due to air pressure differences). The child was in the window seat so they can’t get up on their own and run up and down the aisle (we do the same with my son...and he gets something to look at). They could have easily defused the situation much like the Delta crew did. But they did not and they inconvenienced everyone, embarresed the family and opened themselves up to litigation.

[Edited 2015-05-11 13:04:48]

[Edited 2015-05-11 13:10:09]

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Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos