A Texas mother claims how she and her two children were kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight because her intellectually disabled 3-year-old refused to wear a mask.
The incident allegedly happened this past Monday when the family was attempting to fly home to Houston from Midland, Texas, according to ABC13.
The mother, who requested to remain anonymous, said she had just spent a week in Midland visiting family and was getting ready for a short flight home.
“We’re getting close to the runway,” she told ABC 13. “They’re going over the security safety features and all that, and the flight attendant walks by and tells me that he has to put a mask on. So, I try to put the mask on him. He is 3 and has autism and sensory processing disorders, so he wouldn’t keep the mask on.”
The struggle of keeping a mask on a toddler has become a familiar one to parents everywhere.
And while the struggle of keeping a mask on a toddler is already difficult for parents, for parents of children with special needs, it can be even more of a battle.
That being said, the mother had no idea what would happen next.
Within minutes, the flight attendant alerted the captain, who then asked her son to put the mask on again and as it did not work, the plane returned to the gate.
Just last month, Southwest Airlines tightened its face mask requirements as did American Airlines.
In both cases, the airlines announced that they would no longer be making face mask exceptions for passengers with medical exemptions.
The only passengers who can board a plane without a mask on Southwest are children younger than 2 and as the boy was 3, he had to comply. When speaking with ABC News, the mom said she understands and agrees why the face mask mandate is in place and was not attempting to bypass the rules.
“I agree with the mask policy,” she said. “I wear my mask everywhere I go.”
That being said, she does believe that given the circumstances, flight staff should have been more understanding. On a flight to Midland the previous week, flight staff had zero issues with her son not wearing a mask.
“It’s not an issue, but you’ve got to have some kind of exemption, especially for people with disabilities, [and] kids with disabilities,” she continued. “I mean, no 3-year-old, who is autistic and has sensory processing disorder, is going to put anything on their face. He’s supposed to wear glasses. I can’t even get him to wear his glasses to help him see. He just doesn’t understand. He doesn’t like things touching his face, so he’s not going to put a mask on.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.