Program helps kids with autism gain confidence while traveling on planes

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Kids with autism or other intellectual and developmental disabilities are receiving a little help to gain confidence while traveling.

"Everyday things for us like our senses, that we take for granted, are very hard for these kids," said Brooke Johnson, whose son Jett is on the Autism spectrum.

She signed him up for the mock flight with Wings for Autism to experience what it's like to walk through the jet bridge, buckle up, hear the engines turn on and what it would feel like to taxi out to the runway.

"He's having a good time. He's having fun. He gets excited and he kicks on his seat back so we have some things to work on," Johnson said.

While Jett was soaking in the sights outside the plane, seated in front of him was Cole Smith. He was learning more about how the seat belts work and concentrating on the safety brochure.

He was a little hesitant about the flight when the engines really started to roar.

"If I thought we were going to fly I would be like oh, no. But I'm really glad we couldn't fly. This is just a practice round and I'm really happy we cannot fly," he said.

This was an extra special flight because a young boy who was supposed to be on it passed away a few weeks ago. His mother, Toni Barba, still decided to participate. She even brought this little bear in his honor.

'He would have loved this. Emrsyn loved love," she said. "He loved being outdoors. He loved anything he can do."

The captain took the bear and put him up in the cockpit in honor of Emrsyn.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.