Saturday, 5 May 2012


So… My sister and I will be going to England from the 4th of June ‘till the 8th of June. We will be travelling by plane. This isn’t entirely new to me, as I’ve travelled by plane to Germany (Berlin) and Japan (Tokyo). It IS the first time we’ll be travelling without our parents though. This has been a cause for stress for me, since it brings all kinds of new and, sometimes, unpredictable things I have to deal with.

Up until now my parents have planned out the holidays and I just followed. Of course they asked us what fun things we’d like to do and if we even like the place they’re planning to go to, but they’ve pretty much planned all the practical stuff. Now, I know how to book a hotel. I’ve done this several times for conventions. But the real big problem is how the airport, both in England and in The Netherlands, and the public transportation in England works.

A lot of people tell me it’s easy, the signs will simply tell me where to go and what to do, and I’ll find my way. But have you ever noticed how busy everything is at an airport? Not just the HUGE crowd of people, but also how many signs there actually are! And some of them are electronic and even change slides once every few seconds. Because I process information slower, I also read a bit slower, especially when it comes to finding that one piece of information that I need. When I get halfway this one sign, it moves on to the next slide! Then I get halfway that slide and it jumps back to the previous one. Then I have to find out where I ended the first time and then hope to have time left to read even more.
This is just one sign… And there are a lot of those! On top of that, you’re in a hurry of course. You’re trying to get to your gate in time. So everyone travelling with me is way faster with sorting everything out and they’re not planning on waiting for me, since there simply isn’t any time left.

All this has usually caused for me to just let my parents find their way and I would trust them to get me to my destination. But now I’m alone with my sister and it’s becoming very apparent how little of a help I am at this point. Also, I was getting so much stress, it was hardly worth the vacation anymore.

So my sister decided to take me to Schiphol (a Dutch airport) a month before our vacation and show me around with all the time in the world. We wouldn’t be able to check everything out, seeing there are parts you can only see after you’ve checked in, but we would be able to see a lot. We went there by train and had a look around.
Upon arriving, my sister started by showing me which signs showed me the right directions. We created a scenario where we would be getting on the plane to England that day. Of course we wouldn’t be getting on the plane, but it was just to help me find information faster.
After explaining the signs to me, she told me we needed hall 3, since that’s what the website told her, and she told me to find it. I found the hall. In the hall we took our time with the electronic signs, searching for the right check-in counter. Once I found the right information, she told me what all the codes next to the name of the city meant. Then she had me point out the check-in counter we needed. Once we found the counter, I had a look at all the signs there and found out which lane we would need. For some last question my sister had herself too, we asked a lady at a client service counter. She told us everything we needed to know.

This look-around was very effective, since I’m now confident I can find my own way around an airport too. Knowing this has relieved a lot of stress and doom-scenario-thinking from me. Now I can finally enjoy the idea of going to England with my sister in a month! I can’t wait!


  1. I should say: a job well done by Paula. This is the proper way to help someone with autism.

  2. Inderdaad toppie dat jullie vast saampjes zijn wezen kijken!
    Neemt een boel stress weg.

    Ook fijn dat Paula dat soort dingen zo goed aan voelt.
    (Bij mij is dat meestal mijn moeder ;) )

  3. Ik kan alleen maar zeggen dat dit toch wel goed is aangepakt. Ik zou er niet op komen, maar goed ik heb dan ook weinig omgang met autitische mensen gehad (niet dat ik ze mijd ofzo, maar het kan ook zijn dat ik ze niet herken).

    Een klein vraagje/beetje advies. Als jullie zijn geland doe hetzelfde voor zover het mogelijk is. Houd een X aantal minuten/uren vrij hiervoor (ik weet niet hoe lang het duurt).
    Je kan beter direct na aankomst dit doen dan vlak voordat je weg moet lijkt mij.