Children's Health

For kids with autism, a 'flight' to ease stress

Nathaniel Epstein, 14, smiles as he sits in his seat on an airplane at the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, in Linthicum, Md., during Wings for Autism, an airport rehearsal for children with autism spectrum disorders, their families and aviation officials. Families took part in a typical airport experience, from check-in and security to boarding a plane, with the intention of alleviating some of the stress of air travel for children with autism. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Nathaniel Epstein, 14, smiles as he sits in his seat on an airplane at the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, in Linthicum, Md., during Wings for Autism, an airport rehearsal for children with autism spectrum disorders, their families and aviation officials. Families took part in a typical airport experience, from check-in and security to boarding a plane, with the intention of alleviating some of the stress of air travel for children with autism. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

With boarding passes in hand, children with autism spectrum disorders and their families took part in an air travel rehearsal at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Fifty families experienced a typical day at an airport, from check-in and security to receiving peanuts and pretzels from flight attendants onboard a Southwest Airlines jet for a 30-minute simulated "flight" that never left the gate.

Rehearsals like this one originated with a Massachusetts-based chapter of The Arc, an advocacy organization for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, with the intention of alleviating some of the stress of air travel for children with autism.