Wings for Autism® Program to Take Place at South Bend International Airport

South Bend, IN. On Saturday, April 30, at 1:00 p.m. Wings for Autism® will take place at South Bend International Airport (SBN), in partnership with Delta Air Lines, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), The Arc and ADEC. The event will help fifty families overcome their anxiety about the challenges of flying by giving them the opportunity to complete a “rehearsal” process of what to expect at an airport.

The process will include everything from checking luggage and getting a boarding pass to walking through airport security and finding their seat on the plane.  People with autism depend on predictable situations and familiar outcomes every day.  Michelle McGuin, director of ADEC family services said, “Many families who have a child with autism avoid flying altogether because they’re not sure what to expect or don’t think their child can handle it. This experience will comfort the families because they will be prepared and know what to expect the next time they fly.”


South Bend International Airport is the first airport in Indiana to provide this program for families. “It is exciting and an honor to be a part of this event,” said Julie Curtis, South Bend International Airport’s director of marketing and development. “If this process allows just one family to experience a memorable vacation, then this event has been a success.”


The Wings for Autism® program was created in 2011 and designed to provide people with disabilities and families with an opportunity to prepare for, practice, and gain confidence with air travel in a controlled, real-life environment.  This event is sponsored by Thor Industries, South Bend Chocolate Company, and ADEC.  The event is free for those that preregistered.


Following the “rehearsal”, there will be a reception in the airport’s atrium. Each family will receive a goody bag.


Wings for Autism® is one of The Arc’s national initiatives with a goal to have this program in every U.S. airport.  The Arc advocates for and serves people with developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome, autism, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, and other diagnoses.


About the South Bend International Airport

South Bend International Airport’s three air carriers provide nonstop flights to ten cities:  Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Fort Myers/Punta Gorda, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New York City/Newark, Orlando/Sanford, Phoenix/Mesa, and Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg with connections world-wide. South Bend International’s multi-modal terminal serves over one million air, rail and bus passengers each year. According to the 2012 Economic Impact Report from the Aviation Authority of Indiana, South Bend International’s total annual economic impact on South Bend and surrounding communities was in excess of $1.7 billion.


For additional information, please refer to or get social with SBN on Facebook (, Twitter (@SBNairport) or Instagram (@SBNairport) to stay informed about the airport and the carriers that serve the Michiana region.


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