PORTLAND, Ore. – When her seven-year-old son had to fly solo to visit his dad, Alexa Bjornson was a little worried.
Bjornson’s son, Landon Bjornson, has autism, and traveling can be difficult for him. Because the mom didn’t know how Landon would fare on his own, she gave her son a note to present to the passenger next to him.
The message explained that Landon has high-functioning autism and might frequently ask “Are we there yet?” She also included $10 for the person for helping her son feel safe and comfortable.
“I thought, how do I make it so whoever’s sitting next to him won’t look at him as a burden but more of like, I can help this kiddo get through the day,” Bjornson told CNN affiliate KATU.
Ben Pedraza ended up sitting next to Landon, but he didn’t need any cash incentive to enjoy a great flight with Landon. They were heading from Las Vegas to Oregon on Thursday.
“We were cracking jokes, and after a while, he asked me to quit making dad jokes,” Pedraza told KATU.
At the end of the flight, Pedraza snapped a photo with Landon and sent it to Alexa with a sweet, reassuring message.
“(Landon) did ask if we were there yet several times but he was a great travel buddy. We had a good time and played a few rounds of rock-paper-scissors,” Pedraza wrote. “He’s a great kid and you’re a lucky mom.”
Pedraza said the $10 “wasn’t necessary” and that he donated it to The Autism Society in honor of Landon.
Bjornson said she is “so grateful” for Pedraza’s kindness toward her son.
For parents traveling with kids who have autism, the Marcus Autism Center recommends requesting bulkhead or aisle seats, bringing items to keep children entertained, considering a visit to the airport ahead of time to become familiar with the crowds and sights, and having contingency plans for possible flight delays.