The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has created a “What to Expect”document to help people with disabilities or medical conditions. Navigating unfamiliar airports, the security screening process and flying in general can be very stressful! This information may be helpful in planning ahead, and in better understanding what to expect if you are traveling during the holidays with someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Things to know:

  • Children with disabilities can be screened without being separated from their parents or guardians. Parents or guardians should inform the officer conducting the screening of the child’s needs before screening begins. Parents or guardians may offer suggestions on the best way to approach and screen their children.
  • Adult passengers with intellectual disabilities or developmental disabilities, such as autism, can be screened without being separated from their traveling companions. The passenger, or his or her traveling companions, should inform the officer conducting the screening of the passenger’s needs before screening begins. The passenger, or his or her traveling companions, may offer suggestions on the best way to approach and screen the passenger, especially if it is necessary to touch him or her during screening.
  • Passengers can be screened using imaging technology or walk-through metal detectors only if they can walk through on their own.
  • If a passenger cannot or chooses not to be screened by imaging technology or a walk-through metal detector, the passenger will be screened using a thorough patdown procedure instead. A patdown procedure is also used to resolve any alarms from a metal detector or anomalies identified by imaging technology.

TSA Cares is a help line to assist travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. Travelers may call TSA Cares toll free at 1-855-787-2227 with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint. The TSA recommends that passengers call 72 hours ahead of travel for this information.