TSA Support for Individuals with Autism
March 8, 2013
By Mary Beth Collins, Director of Programs
With springtime upon us, and more importantly spring break trips quickly approaching, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a number of options available for adults and families living with autism to help make the process through the airport security checkouts as easy as possible.
Passenger Support Specialists Program
Passenger Support Specialists (PSS) are Transportation Security Officers (TSO), Lead TSOs and Supervisors who, in addition to their regular checkpoint duties, support passengers who may be in need of assistance. A traveler who needs assistance or is concerned about his or her screening can ask a checkpoint officer or supervisor for a Passenger Support Specialist at the respective checkpoint. Or, if TSA personnel recognize someone is having difficulty, a PSS could be called to ask whether assistance is needed. While all TSOs receive training on how to best screen individuals with disabilities and medical conditions, PSSs receive enhanced training directly from experts in the field of a variety of disabilities and from individuals with disabilities themselves. This training includes additional instruction on civil rights for individuals with disabilities and medical conditions, and strategies for providing assistance with dignity and respect.
How to Access a Passenger Support Specialist at the Airport?
TSA is committed to having a Passenger Support Specialist available during all screening checkpoint operating hours. If a traveler believes he or she may need to request the assistance of a Passenger Support Specialist, he or she is encouraged to arrive at the airport early and immediately ask an officer or a supervisor for a PSS.
It is important to remember that the Passenger Support Specialist will adhere to all of TSA’s Standard Operating Procedures. While customer service will be emphasized, security protocol cannot be compromised. At some airports, Passenger Support Specialists will also complement the TSA Cares program.
TSA encourages travelers with disabilities and medical conditions to contact TSA Cares before they fly. This is a helpline designed to assist travelers prior to getting to the airport to provide important information regarding screening policies, procedures, and what to expect at the security checkpoint. When a passenger calls, a representative will provide assistance specific to the traveler’s challenges, or refer to a disability expert. TSA recommends that such calls take place approximately 72 hours ahead of travel so that TSA Cares has the opportunity to coordinate checkpoint support with a TSA Customer Service Manager located at the airport.
TSA Cares toll free helpline: 855.787.2227
Hours of Operation: Mon – Fri, 8 am – 11 pm EST, and weekends/holidays 9 am – 8 pm EST.
My TSA Mobile Application App
The My TSA mobile application provides airline passengers with 24/7 access to the most frequently asked questions regarding the TSA process, and current security wait times. This application can be of great assistance when planning a full day of traveling. To access the mobile app, users can download from iTunes and Google Play, or visit www.tsa.gov/mobile.
App Features Include:
-Airport Status – reports general delays, not flight specific
-List of current items that are permitted /prohibited, and whether users can “carry on” or have to pack in checked bags
-Guide to the most frequently asked questions
-Security wait times – gives passengers an ability to share wait time and see what wait times other passengers have posted.
-Videos on 3-1-1 liquids rule, traveling with children and advanced imaging technology.
-Feedback for specific questions
For more TSA information for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions, click here.
For autism-specific information, click here.
April 10, 2013
The Autism Society, the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots autism organization, has chosen Pittsburgh as the host city of its 44th annual conference on autism spectrum disorders.
April 5, 2013
Individuals with autism can attend the Autism Society National Conference and Exposition (in Pittsburgh) for FREE this year! Learn more: www.autism-society.org/conference.
April 3, 2013
Monarch Teaching Technologies, the makers of VizZle®, web-based educational software for visual learners with autism, will give one-year of free VizZle to every new (or renewing) Champion Member during April.
April 2, 2013
Read the Autism Society’s digital magazine about autism spectrum disorders!
April 2, 2013
Today, throughout the world, individuals will come together highlighting the needs and dreams of people living with autism.