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Autistic Boy and Mom Kicked Off Plane


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http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=5238571&page=1

"There were no weapons on board or concerns about terrorism, but an American Eagle flight about to take off from the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., airport was turned back to its gate on Monday to remove two passengers.

The culprits? An upset, autistic toddler and his mother.

By all accounts, two-year-old Jarret Farrell wasn't a happy traveler. But his mother, Janice Farrell, who said she tried everything to calm her son, believes there was no reason for the airline to kick them off the plane."

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It's tough being the mother of an autistic kid. Here's the real reason they got kicked off:

Farrell said that a pilot came into to the cabin and told Jarret, "You have to get in your seat, young man."

Farrell said she started crying then, which just exacerbated Jarret's behavior.

"He just melted down. He saw me getting upset. He was upset. He was on the floor rolling around," Farrell told WTVD.

That's when the pilot turned the plane around and headed back to the terminal, where Farrell and her son were escorted off the plane.

The FAA requires passengers to be seated and belted when the plane is in motion. The kid wasn't. When the pilot has to leave the cockpit, it delays the flight, costs money, causes delays in the flight control system. It's not up to a flight crew to be doctors & psychologists & lawyers and waive federal regulations for her convenience.

She says the kid was an angel on another flight. Fine. She needs to acknowledge he was the devil incarnate on this one, and take her lumps. It's not the airlines fault.

a.m.

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This would've (or should've?) happened on a good fourth of the flights I've been on (and I have over 300 flights and 250,000 air miles under my belt). Hell, I almost got kicked off a plane in San Francisco last year... well okay, that was more since I had a malignant hyperhidrosis episode at the gate/in the plane, halfway passed-out in my seat from hypovolemia, soaking in sweat, and and the flight attendant discovering me in such a state before the gate doors were closed... and asked me if I'd like to leave SF later that day (I assume that was lest the pilot have the need to make an emergency landing in Albuquerque).

Anyways, as AIRMarshall said, disregarding FAA rules is disregarding FAA rules is disregarding FAA rules. I'm not sure that this article (and situation) are really anything specific to autism. The situation is sort of analogous to the previous discussion on the autistic kindergartener who got kicked out of class... just like seeing ANY kid getting "voted out of class" is a travesty, conversely, it's standard operating procedure on ANY airline in almost ANY country to have to eject non-compliant, noisy, screaming children, autistic and otherwise. Again, I don't see how autism in particular pertains to this, unless there's a much higher rate of general airline "understanding" once the crew "magically understands" that the child in question is neurotypical and keeps him on the flight. That would be discrimination, of course. Even better understanding of the child's autistic issues is by no means going to make the airline's (or child's!) butt(s) any more secure should there be severe turbulence or any sort of undue impact on landing.

Does this highlight the need for parents of autistics to exercise care whilst traveling with children? Certainly. Wifezilla, your opinion on this?

</ducks from flames>

<yeah, the geese and the emus, too, I think everybody knows about them now>

<BUT THE CASSOWARIES!! DON'T FORGET THE CASSOWARIES!!>

(EDIT, upon further reading of article: The duo was kicked off the plane primarily since the mother did not put her carry-on bag in the overhead compartment. If they were in the front row of the aircraft (in this plane's case, its only bulkhead row), they indeed should have been putting their carry-on luggage/s in the overhead compartment. If this came as a surprise for them, it looks like a major flub in the passenger education department, as well.)

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No flames my friend...LOL

Flight safety is first...but we have conflicting reports of whether the kid was really on the floor. Either way, it was pretty easy for me to see how this got out of control. First the seat belt thing. The flight attendant kept tightening the belt. The kid was probably on overstim just from wearing clothing let alone a tight seat belt. Second, the raised voices by the attendants. I know from my experience with Max that raising my voice is a sure-fire instant way to get him to short out and have a complete meltdown. Then, once mom started crying, it was over.

As for the carry on bag, initial reports did not mention anything about the carry-on bag. That seemed very contrived and "tacked-on" to me.

I would like to hear reports from other passengers.

I think the whole situation could have been diffused and the airline personel made it worse.

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I read this article last week and my first thought was "Did the mother discreetly notify the flight attendant(s) of her son's condition before there was a situation? Seems to me that if you had a child who had a condition that could cause a disruption like this you'd be inclined to give people the head's up - I'm sure the attendant's would have at least attempted to respond differently had they known what was up. Not to offend anyone, but I imagine only a highly trained child development professional can diagnose autism - and even they usually need more than 2 minutes to do so.

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I think that the true issue here, come to think of it, is the media hype, simultaneously supporting and damning of autistics and the airline industry (just to confuse things up a bit here).

I do not know if the 'truth' will ever come out, but looking at when action was taken on the unruly child, well, that seems just stupid what the flight crew did. Planes that have to return from the taxiway to the gate, get the doors open, and unruly passengers ejected, this is something that creates quite a delay and throws more crap on all parties involved. Although the article does not state when the incident started (pre- or post- gate door closing and taxi), if the problems started with the toddler improperly buckled before gate departure, the issue should have been remediated while the plane was still at the gate, front door open -- That's when flight attendants are supposed to verify that everybody is buckled in securely. And to make sure that all carry-ons are stowed properly.

And WZ--

I think you hit the nail on the head regarding defusion of the situation. As far as how the boy himself was treated, it's truly a travesty (at least for treatment of an autistic). Also, upon re-reading the article, I am a bit offended at the writer calling the boy and his mother "culprits". Sounds shameful. Both the mother (who I assume knows how labile autistics, both children and adults, can be) as well as the flight crew (if they were informed) should have been more prepared for such a situation. I personally would have respected a stern message from the captain himself (but then again, I only flew once when I was that kid's age, and at the time I was so quiet that my parents thought something was seriously wrong with me... serious as in LFA or CDD, not HFA!). But I do sympathize with your Max anyways, as I STILL have major issues with authority. ;)

In any event, largely irrelevantly, the plane depicted looks like a SAAB340 turboprop, which I am fairly sure the boy's sensory integration issues would not have gotten along with after takeoff. Those things are DAMN loud from inside the cabin (although nothing compared to sitting arrears a 1960s DC-9-10). Maybe there needs to be compiled an "autie-friendly" list of aircraft and seating positions. :)

I'll shut up now, for once.

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hi,

a couple years ago i was "escorted" off a plane because i wouldnt leave the bathroom. my airplane had already left the gate and we were "waiting for clearance" - meaning waiting for me to get out of the bathroom. i was having a major anxiety attack. airline crew decide to go back to gate - paramedics & police walked me off the airplane. i got a lot of stern looks from the passengers as we walked out.

so the argument that the crew should have made sure everyone was "settled" is a difficult one. im not comparing my anxiety to this kid's autism. im just saying i can only imagine how incredibly difficult it is for a pilot & crew to make these decisions.

db

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a couple years ago i was "escorted" off a plane because i wouldnt leave the bathroom. my airplane had already left the gate and we were "waiting for clearance" - meaning waiting for me to get out of the bathroom. i was having a major anxiety attack. airline crew decide to go back to gate - paramedics & police walked me off the airplane. i got a lot of stern looks from the passengers as we walked out.

so the argument that the crew should have made sure everyone was "settled" is a difficult one. im not comparing my anxiety to this kid's autism. im just saying i can only imagine how incredibly difficult it is for a pilot & crew to make these decisions.

Yikes... in all honesty, I do think your situation is somewhat similar to what this boy went through... his issue was autism, yours was panic/anxiety.

I have a friend of mine who has varying degrees of aerophobia, and she generally carries benzo du jour with her (generally clonazepam, which she dissolves 0.5mg under her tongue if she feels like she's about to lose it). (Strangely, I do the same to avoid verbally abusing my parents.) You might want to talk to your pdoc about having such a PRN benzo on hand to abort attacks.

Now what really stinks is that we haven't found a way to avert acute autie issues that way (at least until the mother has a chance to write the airline with a piece of her mind). (Well, okay, the benzo method has worked for me, but I'm 24, and not 2.)

[EDIT: A good way to avert 'acute autie issues' like what the boy has would probably be letting the flight crew know this issues... and having the flight crew be a bit more sensitive as to not inconvenience him, the mother, and all of the other passengers.]

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A Disney movie defuses Max 95% of the time. The $70 I spent on a portable DVD player is one of the best investment I ever made in my LIFE!

Sweet. Just make sure to use it before they close the cabin door, at which point all electronic devices must be turned off (although that doesn't stop me from doing some aircraft/runway photography, my SLR camera emits as much electrical interference as a watch, anyways). I'd hope for Max that the consolation of a Disney movie will last until the aircraft has ascended above 10,000 feet, at which point you may resume use of the Max-calmer.

Myself, I just have an iPod nano loaded with 2 GB of good heavy metal, as well as a pair of well-fitting earplug/bud headphones. Helps with planes/seating locales that have very high noise (try sitting in the back of a DC-9 or even the more modern MD-80/88/90).

but anyways, yeah.

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American Eagle is the regional branch of American Airlines. It's smaller turboprop planes. I'll bet you anything the kid went batshit the minute the cabin pressurized and the prior flight was on a full sized plane.

Yeah, that was pretty much my line of thought... once those things get taxiing, they're LOUD (they don't even need to be started on full-power takeoff roll for this). So I think that your hypothesis of when the plane got loud makes quite a bit of sense to me.

Though, for what it's worth, I'm fairly sure that most of American Eagle's fleet now consists of those "regional jets" (those resemble and sound like mini-sized versions of those full-size planes American Airlines flies).

but anyways... yeah auties with sensory issues, avoid turboprops, heh. (The major ones in service now are the Dash-8 Q-200/300 (DH8), Saab-340 (S34; aircraft in question in this incident), Beechcraft 1900 (B19, which I refuse to fly on for safety reasons), and ATR-72 (AT7). All noisy, from what I understand. There's also the turboprop Dash-8 Q400, which is advertised as "the turboprop that's quieter than a jet" (though I have no evidence of this).

The 'safer' (and definitely quieter!) regional jets I mentioned are the Canadair RJ (CRJ) and the Embraer Jet series (ERJ, ER3, ER4, EMJ). The CRJ has a nasty history of pilots doing stupid things with them, though that has nothing to do with the aircraft itself.

Honestly, I now do seriously think that plane choice and seating position does have a lot to do with autism comfort (and in this child's case, behavior). I hope the family's more scrupulous in choosing flight itineraries, or at least has a pair of good earplugs that the child is comfortable with. Noise-cancelling headphones would be an option, but they technically can't be operated under 10,000 feet under FAA regulations, as they're electronically-powered.

what the hell was the topic anyways? ah well...

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We have traveled with Max on planes a couple of times. Give him the window seat and as long as he has something to look at, he is happy. He was a bit older when we traveled and I am not sure I would have even attempted it when he was 3.

A bag full of comics doesn't hurt either.

As for the electronics thing, wasn't that taken care of during an episode of mythbusters? They TRIED to screw up the instruments on a plane with electronic devices and COULDN'T DO IT. So WHY again does everything have to be off?

what the hell was the topic anyways?

Are you kidding? The topic mutations are just as interesting and educational as the starter topics ;)

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We have traveled with Max on planes a couple of times. Give him the window seat and as long as he has something to look at, he is happy. He was a bit older when we traveled and I am not sure I would have even attempted it when he was 3.

A bag full of comics doesn't hurt either.

As for the electronics thing, wasn't that taken care of during an episode of mythbusters? They TRIED to screw up the instruments on a plane with electronic devices and COULDN'T DO IT. So WHY again does everything have to be off?

FWIW, I don't take MythBusters all that seriously, but I think I did see that episode. I do understand that the FAA is considering lifting that rule for electronic devices (as a lot of people probably want to put on headphones, especially the noise-canceling variety, during the takeoff roll, the noisiest part of most flights). I wouldn't mind being allowed to use my MP3 player with earplug phones on takeoff roll either, doesn't just cancel the noise via plugging my ears, but it also makes the ascent (and descent) gentler on my ears for the same reason.

Though, sometimes I wonder if those flying out of airports on America's high basins/plains get any benefit... ("ah yes, we're taking off from 7,000 feet at Jackson Hole, so you can use electronic devices in 30 seconds or so").

Well okay, I do believe the FAA guidelines mean above ground level relative to the airport. ;)

Going "back on topic" (partially at least), comics are excellent distractions for the younger group. I always keep a couple of smaller nonfiction books in my large camera bag (one that still fits neatly under the seat in front of me, and considered a 'personal item', which means I can bring on and put my laptop bag in the overhead compartment). The laptop bag, almost needless to say, is heavily padded.

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hi:

herrfous wrote:

but anyways... yeah auties with sensory issues, avoid turboprops, heh. (The major ones in service now are the Dash-8 Q-200/300 (DH8), Saab-340 (S34; aircraft in question in this incident), Beechcraft 1900 (B19, which I refuse to fly on for safety reasons), and ATR-72 (AT7). All noisy, from what I understand. There's also the turboprop Dash-8 Q400, which is advertised as "the turboprop that's quieter than a jet" (though I have no evidence of this).

im not autistic...but certainly have a ton of issues with airplanes & flying in general. add in that my mom's house is in the middle of nowhere. and unless i want to drive 3 hours to los angeles or san francisco (then add in time for parking/return rental, check in, security, bathroom blah blah) i have to fly out of the rinky-dink airport which has only regional type airplanes.

well, i guess im complaining...but how do you know so much about these "turboprop" type airplanes?

maybe if we could come up with some sort of fantastic idea or plan maybe we could change flying...or maybe im just having "grandiose thinking."

yes, we can change the world.

db

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well, i guess im complaining...but how do you know so much about these "turboprop" type airplanes?

That's one benefit of being an autistic airhead (both in terms of planes being one of my narrow intense interests... and being an airhead idiot otherwise, too!).

The only turboprop I've ever flown on was the Embraer 120 (its regional jet successor, ERJ, actually has almost the exact same body, just with different wings and jet engines). The aircraft is no longer in service in the US or Canada, I understand (which is why I didn't list it above). My experience back in 1998 on a Delta Connection E120 was a normal flight (and just a 45 minute one at that, Atlanta-Augusta, GA), but I could still only barely tolerate the noise that thing generated.

maybe if we could come up with some sort of fantastic idea or plan maybe we could change flying...or maybe im just having "grandiose thinking."

I don't think your thinking is all that grandiose, FWIW... it does seem realistic, at least semi-so. Newer airplanes and quieter engines are coming in all the time (especially with the <100 seat regional jets). Sit towards the front of a regional jet and you'll hardly hear anything.

Now, one thing I'd like to see gone or changed are those "noise abatement" takeoffs (if you have ever flown from Santa Ana, you'll know what I'm talking about). If a plane has to take off directly over a residential area at night (this has happened to me lifting off from Indianapolis a few times, and ALWAYS happens at Santa Ana 24/7), often airport/city regulations make aircraft do this kind of takeoff, which involves keeping the engines fully gunned and taking off as steeply as possible. Then, after the aircraft reaches a safe height (a few seconds later), the engines are turned almost all the way down until the plane levels off and clears the area over the residential area. For my motion-sensitive autistic issues, these are hell, especially when they cut the engines and level off (you get a moment of near-zero gravity then).

anyways, but yea...

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Now, one thing I'd like to see gone or changed are those "noise abatement" takeoffs (if you have ever flown from Santa Ana, you'll know what I'm talking about). If a plane has to take off directly over a residential area at night (this has happened to me lifting off from Indianapolis a few times, and ALWAYS happens at Santa Ana 24/7), often airport/city regulations make aircraft do this kind of takeoff, which involves keeping the engines fully gunned and taking off as steeply as possible. Then, after the aircraft reaches a safe height (a few seconds later), the engines are turned almost all the way down until the plane levels off and clears the area over the residential area. For my motion-sensitive autistic issues, these are hell, especially when they cut the engines and level off (you get a moment of near-zero gravity then).

Try living anywhere remotely near an airport, and you'll be thrilled that they do that (and other things, like stagger the directions the planes take off/land in and flight paths they take, so they don't always go over the same towns or neighborhoods while they're low enough to be annoying). There's no room in Boston to put an airport anywhere conveniently located that isn't basically right in the city, because in three directions there's a thick carpet of suburbs, and the fourth is water, so they put it on the water side, since that's as close/convenient as you can get. However, that means that unless people are flying toEurope, they have to pass over the city and/or suburbs almost immediately after takeoff. As I live close enough for planes to be passing overhead before they're high enough to be inaudible (or after they're low enough to hear distinctly when they're coming by the other way to land) on a semi-regular basis, I'm pretty happy about everything they do to minimize and distribute the noise. Even if I flew more often, I would still hear a lot more passing over my house than I would be listening to from inside the plane.

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Try living anywhere remotely near an airport, and you'll be thrilled that they do that (and other things, like stagger the directions the planes take off/land in and flight paths they take, so they don't always go over the same towns or neighborhoods while they're low enough to be annoying). There's no room in Boston to put an airport anywhere conveniently located that isn't basically right in the city, because in three directions there's a thick carpet of suburbs, and the fourth is water, so they put it on the water side, since that's as close/convenient as you can get. However, that means that unless people are flying toEurope, they have to pass over the city and/or suburbs almost immediately after takeoff. As I live close enough for planes to be passing overhead before they're high enough to be inaudible (or after they're low enough to hear distinctly when they're coming by the other way to land) on a semi-regular basis, I'm pretty happy about everything they do to minimize and distribute the noise. Even if I flew more often, I would still hear a lot more passing over my house than I would be listening to from inside the plane.

Sorta reminds me of Los Angeles (LAX)... they generally do takeoffs over the water and landings over the residential neighborhoods. Eastbound flights have to climb to a certain altitude and then make a U-turn to go back over the land. I think they also do that in San Diego, where the planes have to clear a 500 foot hill a half mile before landing, and then practically free-fall to hit the runway threshold.

And as for my personal sensory issues (i.e., moreso motion than loudness), I find these takeoffs to be a bit unnerving (try one in a 757-200 or an ERJ-135!) due to the greater forces pushing you back into your seat as you climb, and then the sudden moment of lower gravity that comes on as the engines are cut (this is more pronounced the further back you sit. The pilots hardly feel it).

Anyways, all northbound takeoffs from Indianapolis, I believe, have to perform noise abatement procedures through the night and early morning, namely due to the rapidly growing (and rapidly getting wealthier) suburbs on the city's west side, just north of the airport.

...whoa, this topic was about a recalcitrant autie boy causing a fuss on a plane?!? (Not me, I meant the toddler referenced in the article.)

[OT EDIT (more OT than normal): 15 years ago, when we lived between Raleigh and Durham, NC (2 miles from the RDU airport, specifically), my dad had quite a bit of fun driving to work on I-40... the runway threshold is probably like 200 feet from the freeway, so on many landings, it looks as if the planes are about to clip the freeway/airport's line of windbreaker pine trees (or overheight vehicles on the freeway.]

now, back on topic... -ish.

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hi herrfous:

you are correct about departing & arrival flights in & out of lax. its required to take off over the ocean and the turn for whatever direction. *this is the paranoid part of me talking* i think some pilots love to "play" with this take off over the ocean. i about crap my pants every time. i hate it. plus...im always thinking there are bad people on a boat that are going to shoot us down.

and talk about the arrival landing. good god, sometimes it seems like we are gonna land on the freeway.

as for other scary flights - going into portland, OR (PDX) and flying right past mt hood. you know how many times ive thought the pilot was gonna fly right into it???

im not a good air-traveler. thus, the major anxiety attack i had one time when i wouldnt leave the bathroom prior to take off.

db

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as for other scary flights - going into portland, OR (PDX) and flying right past mt hood. you know how many times ive thought the pilot was gonna fly right into it???

im not a good air-traveler. thus, the major anxiety attack i had one time when i wouldnt leave the bathroom prior to take off.

db

<spiting>

My parents are flying into Portland/PDX in August for a vacation (I was supposed to come along, and then realized that I'd be

stuck with them in a cabin for 9 days in the middle of nowhere east of the city without even being able to use their rental car due to my age; talk about cabin fever!). I'm going to hope that the landing trajectory goes within less than a mile of the mountain. Mom finds those terrible due to her sensory misperception issues (i.e. thinking the hazard is much closer than it is)... she also had a fear of landing in the water at San Francisco (since you pretty much land immediately after going past the SF Bay, as all runways there have water on both ends.

</spiting> ;)

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