The Autism Spectrum According to Autistic People

Autism neurodiversity
Autism neurodiversity

Airplanes and the Autistic

At the airport, I am in otherwise a happy place. I am traveling to a beautiful country I have never visited before. The aerobridge into the aircraft is not available.

Boarding is not going to be easy.

I am stuck at the bottom of a ramp leading to the plane. My goal is to get up that ramp. The loud intense roar of the airplane’s engine takes over.

I am sound.

I am turbulence. 

The sound takes over, the desire to escape enlists my being. Torrid thoughts fill my autistic mind. Loud and tangled thoughts autistically get me frozen.

Cowardly, trying to run away, my body lets me down. Deafening thoughts of escape intensify the roar of the engines. Loud, taut muscles make me try to walk away.

All the other passengers stare at me. Lots of them regret being on this plane with me. A whole bunch of them wishing I was not on this flight. Reading the crowd, I am playing into the fear of being stuck halfway on the ramp.

I am trespassing on the very ableist desire to travel uninterrupted by dysregulated people.

Working on my body becomes like a war. I am warring with my desire to get on the flight and using my autism to escape. My nerves are war-torn. They take over everything.

Lots of encouragement and letting me board first gets me on the plane. I stop being fearful and look out of the window.

One flight at a time, I open the world.

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12 Responses

  1. I am autistic and I love flying. I have the opposite problem from many autistics. I need background noise. I find the roar of a jet engine soothing and comforting. Pure silence is terrifying. It allows me to be alone with my thoughts. It has sometimes induced panic attacks. Understanding that no two autistic people are the same, I commend you for your bravery, Tejas. You may never come to love flying, but you may be willing to tolerate it for the sake of seeing friends and family far away, and discovering new parts of the world.

    1. Autistics need to learn from each other how we are affected by everything around us.

  2. Superb! Such an excellent piece! Tejas Rao Sankar, you are a total rock star. Articulate, intelligent, and utterly authentic. This is an incredibly important communication about accessibility, dignity, self-determination, and the right to lead a fully public life. Thank you and welcome to the NeuroClastic family!

  3. Tejas this is so beautifully written and enriching, thank you for allowing me to share your journey, and wishing you the very best. You communicate so graphically!

  4. Absolutely amazing piece, Tejas!! 🙂 Heartiest congratulations!! You rock, as always!! 🙂

  5. I really enjoyed reading your article Tejas. You have expressed yourself very beautifully. It has helped me understand you. Keep writing about your travels and experienced. You could even publish a book someday. I wish you the very best in your journey. God bless.

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