The security line at Calgary International Airport inched forward.
“I don’t like waiting in lines!” my son, then six, declared, anxiously clutching my hand. Two minutes later, he collapsed onto the floor, sobbing, and refused to budge. Startled travellers stared at us. Abashed, my husband and I wondered why we even bothered to leave home in the first place – after all, 87 percent of families like ours, with a child on the autism spectrum, don’t travel at all.
In the seven years since, autism travel has become easier for our family. We’ve learned how to prepare our son for travel days, and we give him tools, like fidget toys, to ease his anxiety in long lines.
Disability inclusion has improved across the travel landscape in general: For years the needs of those with mobility, sensory, cognitive or mental health challenges were mostly overlooked, but more and more, the 6 million Canadians who identify as having a disability are finding it less daunting to travel in Canada and abroad.