Earlier today, I wrote about my concerns over how “Autism symptoms may make the TSA think you’re a terrorist“, in which their new “behavior screening” process is essentially them making conversation with you and looking for any “suspicious behavior” which may indicate that you are hiding something.
At the same time, I emailed the TSA and asked them if they are going to include Autism and other special needs information for this training so as to avoid potentially embarrassing and very real damaging mistakes.
Their reply email comes with a disclaimer that says that I can’t copy or distribute it (which is a tad strange for an email) but I can give you a breakdown of their response.
Separate screening for special needs
The TSA has a special process for those with special needs/disabilities and what ever equipment/aides they may have. They take great care to include all areas (mobility, hearing, visual, and hidden) and has gone so far as to establish a coalition of more than 70 organizations that can instruct and train the TSA on their related conditions and issues.
They didn’t say how all of that would be included or associated with the new program they are testing at Boston’s Logan airport but one would assume that they’d make sure that those issues are brought to everyone’s attention.
Disability Notification Cards
The TSA has developed some cards which you can download (http://www.tsa.gov/assets/pdf/disability_notification_cards.pdf) and fill in. Obviously, as it says, it doesn’t exempt you from screening/questions but it will help to get your message across.
Also, in their email, they advise that anyone travelling with a person that has special needs/disability to voice their concerns and needs to the TSA officers.
The cards are a little more discreet though, than having a conversation about it in front of everyone.
If you need them later and forget about this post or the direct link, just visit http://www.tsa.gov/and search for “notification card” in their search box.
Thank you TSA
Well, they answered my question and didn’t… I still have some concerns. As I said in the first post, terrorists could take these steps which would mean they fake a special need in an attempt to get through the process.
Still though, it is a great first step and it shows that they are fully aware and doing their best to include special needs into their process.
There was a lot more about the program and how it works in the email as well, which was quite nice of them. However, as I said, I’m not supposed to “distribute” it or anything. I’m sure though, if you have questions, they will provide you with answers as well.
Contact them, as I did at http://www.tsa.gov/contact/index.shtm