4-Year-Old With Autism Denied From Boarding Flight

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Adonis Roman, a 4-year-old on the autism spectrum, and his family were prevented from boarding their Southwest Airlines flight to Boston, because Adonis required accommodation. This is according to his mother, Jocelyn Roman.

Roman shared her family’s story on Facebook:

“My 4 yr son Adonis is autistic and simple everyday tasks like waiting in lines, and being in unfamiliar places can be extremely overwhelming for him. Visual calendar, countdowns, and keeping him in the know are essential to his development. With that being said certain accommodations must be made to avoid certain behaviors and or meltdowns. I tried to explain this to their ticket agent, who quickly cut me off, slammed her hand on the counter, and made my family and I step to the side.”

“The only accommodation we ask for is to board the plane before it gets too crazy,” Roman said “Typically right after the wheelchairs and supported walkers.” 

After they were told to step aside, Roman tried to explain to the ticket agent why boarding early is important for her son. The agent repeatedly denied Roman and her family from boarding and asked for documentation and proof that her son is on the  autism spectrum, Roman told FOX25.

As the family waited, Adonis began getting anxious, rocking back and forth and stimming orally. “The attendant at this time called for back up via supervisor, security and deemed it necessary to have EMS evaluate my son for some sort of contagious illness.”

Emergency Medical Services cleared Adonis, and once again, Roman tried to explain her son’s needs to flight staff. “Instead the supervisor proudly told me that no accommodations would be made and due to my attitude my son would suffer and we would have to wait for the next flight,” Roman said.

Eventually, Roman was able to talk to a manager, who apologized.  However, the family still missed their flight, which forced them to stay another night in St. Louis.

Southwest paid for their hotel, gave them $200 flight vouchers, and eventually reimbursed the St. Louis-to-Boston leg of their flight.

The company has since been apologetic, however, Roman said there is so much more that airline companies can do to support families on the autism spectrum. “Just respect the diagnosis,” Roman said “It’s not contagious, it’s a developmental disorder. Something as easy as boarding the plane first would have allowed him to have a couple extra minutes to get comfortable and acclimate himself with an unfamiliar environment.”

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