Asperger’s and Airplanes…Not a Good Mix

My son “Buddy” and I went to Kansas City, Missouri last week, because my Grandma was passing away soon from cancer. The trips both ways consisted of two flights each. On the second flight on the way there, Buddy’s ears were really hurting on our descent. We were trying all of the tricks, but they were not cutting it. 

He has Asperger’s Syndrome and when something upsets him, there is often little that can be done to console him. He was crying uncontrollably and starting to hyperventilate. I don’t want him to learn to hold his feelings in, so I was telling him that he can cry, but he needed to cry quietly. He then yells, “I can’t cry quietly!!!” This type of thing continued for a little while and produced some snickers from those around us. All of a sudden, it was all better and he just started talking about other things for the rest of the flight like nothing had happened. The crisis was over.

The trip back to Nevada was even more eventful, unfortunately. On the first flight, Buddy had problems with his ears again. I admit that I had bribed him with a special toy he was wanting. The deal was that if he could be a big boy throughout the whole day he would earn it. This day consisted of my Grandma’s Visitation (she had passed away while we were on our way there), her Funeral, the Cemetery, the family dinner, and all the way home on the airplane. It was definitely worth it to me. When his ears started bothering him really bad, he was trying his hardest to remain somewhat calm. He did quite well other than saying rather loudly, “my ears are going to blow to smithereens”. This too gathered a few snickers. As we touched down, our plane fishtailed quite a bit, but it didn’t seem to faze him at all.

Our second flight on the way home was even more eventful. We had a lot of extreme turbulence for most of the flight. It was the kind of turbulence that you would see on one of those airplane movies. We were being thrown all around and kept dropping suddenly. Buddy was laughing. He said it was just like a roller coaster or the motion picture rides. Unfortunately, he was right. I kept trying to get him to stop saying this, especially at the volume he was using. I didn’t want to scare him with what was “really” happening, but he wasn’t making anything any better. Looking at several of the other passengers’ faces, we were all thinking the same thing. There were definitely A LOT of prayers going up.

He then starts talking about the airplane simulator ride that we went on awhile back. I obviously am not a pilot…I had us spinning uncontrollably until I could reach the “emergency stop” button. I was trying to keep the plane upright and peacefully flying. Buddy was screaming and crying.

Buddy then starts loudly saying, “We survived that airplane ride, so we can definitely survive this.” I felt like saying, “don’t you realize that this isn’t just a ride and we can crash?” But obviously, I didn’t. When we finally landed and came to a stop it sounded like air brakes on a semi…everyone let out loud sighs of relief. To this day, Buddy doesn’t realize the danger we were in, but he has decided that we will be driving to Missouri when we go back.   🙂


* The was originally posted on my previous blog on May 25, 2010.