Airplanes and the Autistic

By Tejas Rao Sankar

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.

Tejas Rao Sankar is an autistic nonspeaker who spells to communicate. He is 23 years old. Tejas is a passionate traveler and loves to dance, spend time with his friends. He is part of the Spellers and Allies Advocacy Network and brings advocacy to spellers causes. He loves creating memes around this for social media. He has presented, as a panelist, at conferences such as Innovations in Education. Georgia, Atlanta, The Bookwallis – a social media book group. He has been recognized by Congressman Max Rose and other legislators for his advocacy for nonspeaking Autistics. If you enjoy his writing, you can leave a tip for Tejas here, on Ko-Fi.  He is also a contributing writer for Neuroclastic, a website that provides information about the autism spectrum from autistic people. Read the original article here.

Photo by Ross Parmly on Unsplash

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