Fun Yet Intimidating, Why Some Families Like Practicing Air Trav - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Fun Yet Intimidating, Why Some Families Like Practicing Air Travel

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Traveling through an airport is almost never a joyous experience, but for some families it's more difficult than just being inconvenienced. For families with children with autism, traveling can be scary and intimidating.

Saturday Reno-Tahoe International Airport partnered with JUSTin Hope Foundation to bring Wings for All to Reno. Wings for All is a nationwide program that puts on "air travel rehearsals" so families can experience what it's like to travel in an airport without time crunches or extra pressure.

Aubrey Lenzi brought her four year old son Leo to the event Saturday, which she says is timely.

"He has a really hard time with sensory issues," Lenzi says. "And we are going to a wedding in South Dakota in June."

Leo is autistic, and Lenzi says she's glad there's an opportunity to expose him to the new environment before they deal with the actual stress of traveling.

"[In order to] kind of ease him into getting on the plane and the plane process," Lenzi says.

About two dozen families had to endure ticketing and security before they boarded a Southwest Airlines 737. Reno-Tahoe Airport officials say they have taken individual families on travel rehearsals before, and it made sense to bring in Wings for All to have a larger event. Lenzi says the number of people was a good experience.

"He gets a little overwhelmed with a lot of people," Lenzi says. "So I think this will help with that."

Lenzi's main concern is all the loud noises during the process. She says Leo was uncomfortable driving with them when he was around six months old, but grew out of that pretty quickly. Lenzi expects some struggles, but hopes this is a great way to help him understand all the chaos.

"So I'm going to try to get him to wear his headphones but he's still having a hard time with that," Lenzi says. "So I think this experience will help teach him that it's ok, the plane is just making noise, you're going to be alright."

Lenzi hopes to travel with Leo a lot in the future so he can experience life to the fullest. She says she will continue to take advantage of programs like Wings for All that help push her son to the limit, and suggests other parents of an autistic child do the same.

"Keep putting them into things keep making them test their boundaries," Lenzi says. "Don't just keep them at home because they aren't the same as everybody else. Make them do these things so they can live normal lives."

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