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  • Amanda Burris

Flight to Remember

I was on an early departure from Nashville to Seattle. It’s about a four to five-hour flight depending on how long you hang out on either runway. In the airport, I noticed a woman with four young children ranging from five to twelve years old. Normally I would have thought, “I hope they aren’t sitting next to me.” But not that day. As the plane filled up, I observed five empty seats around me as I watched the family work their way down the aisle. I was in the aisle seat, so when they approached I asked if they wanted me to move to the window so they could sit together. The mom declined and said the kids like to watch the world from the window. The children quietly took their seats. Mom passed out bananas, apples, cheez its, books, and their handheld games. The two eldest, nine and twelve sat with me.

About forty-five minutes into the flight, I get a tap on the shoulder, “can you check on my mom, she’s afraid to fly.” I tapped mom, she was okay and then the conversation between the kids and I commenced. The kids quickly opened up to me and we had the best conversation for the next four hours. All four kids live with #autism. The eldest, she loved dogs, coding websites, and dissecting owl pellets. The second eldest was in high school math classes and loved Minecraft, electronics, and coding games. They asked me lots of questions about my life. I told them about how I met my husband, my dogs Benny & Jett, and what I do for work. They spoke with me about all their “superpowers” including the youngest, who is a professional kitchen dancer. They talked openly about their #disabilities and the obstacles they work to overcome. It was an incredible experience, these children were so informed and honest about their disabilities, their superpowers, but also the stigmas they face from others, and the desires they have to be accepted. Those kids are going to do whatever they want in life, they’ll be incredible at it, and they deserve employers who provide an equitable platform for talent with disabilities where they can thrive. As I left the plane, they all yelled, “Bye, Amanda, thank you, Amanda.” No kiddos, thank you. I’ve flown hundreds of flights in my lifetime, this was the best single-serving experience I’ve ever had. It was also a kind reminder from the universe why the work we do at Disability Solutions is so important in creating outcomes by Changing Minds and Changing Lives for our children’s future.

Written by Amanda Burris, Mental Health Advocate, and Sales Leader at Disability Solutions

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