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Ukrainian tour operator launches free flights for children with autism

Ukrainian tour operator launches free flights for children with autism The Travel Without Barriers project was launched by Join UP! and SkyUp (photo: Getty Images)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

The Ukrainian tour operator Join UP! has launched a program of air travel for families with children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) called Travel Without Barriers to make travel more accessible for them.

RBC-Ukraine tells what is known about this initiative and how it can be used.

Program purpose

The impetus for the creation of this program was that for children with ASD (1 child out of 100), traveling is not only a vacation but also a way to adapt to social life.

Therefore, the adaptation of services and facilities during the trip is necessary to reduce the impact on the child's condition of stimuli that can cause stress - loud sounds, crowds, new smells, etc.

With this in mind, Join UP! together with its strategic partner SkyUp launched the Travel Without Barriers project.

According to project leader Liudmyla Pleskach, for children with autism spectrum disorders, traveling experience gives an impetus to the development of new skills and better socialization in society.

"It's hard to put into words how I feel when parents talk about their children's successes after a trip to the sea. When a child first allowed them to take a shower without persuasion or went into the water without fear and emotional outbursts. This is priceless," she says.

The expert clarifies that the insights gained last year (after organizing a vacation for 20 families with children with ASD) were an extraordinary experience.

"And we will continue to work to make traveling for children with ASD a part of their lives," Pleskach adds.

How to prepare for trip

To adapt all services to the needs of clients and ensure safety and comfort during the vacation, the tour operator has previously researched the needs of children with autism:

  • organized a trip for 20 children with their families
  • provided training for crews to better understand the behavior and all possible needs during the trip and vacation, as well as to be able to communicate with passengers on the spectrum.

The tour operator will continue to implement the experience and insights gained into its services on an ongoing basis as part of the Travel Without Barriers vector to help people with autism travel more.

Together with specialized experts, we have also created a professional guide for preparing children with autism for travel - the e-book "Traveling without Barriers. A Social History".

The book describes the process of organizing and implementing a trip in a simple and accessible way - step by step and in the format of a social story.

According to experts, this method of presenting the material is a scientifically proven practice and is widely used in various areas of behavioral work. Thus, the book can help all parents prepare their children for their first trip.

How program works

Free flights for children with autism from Join UP! are available from any country of departure - when booking an air tour with Ukrainian travel agents (to all available destinations).

The company emphasizes that the launch of free flights for children with ASD is another step towards encouraging families with children with autism to travel more often.

It is specified that only 13% of them travel today.

This material is for informational purposes only and should not be used for medical diagnosis or self-treatment. Our goal is to provide readers with accurate information about symptoms, causes, and methods of detecting diseases. RBС-Ukraine is not responsible for any diagnoses that readers may make based on materials from the resource. We do not recommend self-treatment and advise consulting a doctor in case of any health concerns.