TSA officers at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) put big smiles on the faces of a special needs group who came through LAX for an up-close look at TSA’s operations.
TSA LAX hosted a group of adult learners with disabilities, some of whom have autism and/or other developmental disabilities, from the Downey Unified School District. The young adults went through one of our checkpoints and boarded an American Airlines plane to get the true feeling of the airport experience and ease any of their fears.
“This experience meant a lot, because my son also has autism,” said LAX Supervisory TSA Officer Brianna Wright, one of the passenger support specialists who assisted the group. “The simple things mean the most. We kind of have to take a step back and really appreciate the simple things in life.”
The event is part of the TSA Cares program, which assists travelers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special circumstances during the security screening process.
TSA Officer Cesar Vega, who has a nephew with autism and whose mother teaches students with autism at an elementary school in the Downey Unified School District, was also touched by the experience.
“It’s great to give back,” Vega noted. “What surprised me the most was how much they touched me when they got so excited to see the planes take off. Something as little as seeing a plane take off made their day, which made my day.”
Most of the time TSA officers work with standard passengers, and Lead TSA Manager Jilberto Reynoso said this was a great opportunity for officers to welcome special passengers with needs.
Reynoso’s 7-year-old son has autism, making this extra special for Reynoso.
“Just watching them, they reminded me of my son, and it was really special to me,” he said. “This was the first time we did this, and I know we’re going to continue this. This was great. It was great for all of us.”
TSA Officer Daisy Allen said their experience was her experience, and she expects she and the young adults who came through LAX will remember this event for a long time.
“It was fulfilling; it was rewarding,” Allen emphasized. “I love that I was here to support them. It brought a lot of joy to my heart. It put a smile on my face. Just to see them happy made me happy.”
By Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs