With boarding passes in hand, children with autism spectrum disorders and their families took part in an air travel rehearsal at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Fifty families experienced a typical day at an airport, from check-in and security to receiving peanuts and pretzels from flight attendants onboard a Southwest Airlines jet for a 30-minute simulated “flight” that never left the gate.

Rehearsals like this one originated with a Massachusetts-based chapter of The Arc, an advocacy organization for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, with the intention of alleviating some of the stress of air travel for children with autism.

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Tags: BWI, health
Photo Credit: Malkia Wageed, left, looks at airplanes with her son, Tylee Lynn, 12, at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, in Linthicum, Md. Patrick Semansky / Associated Press