There are times when parents have to put their young children on airplanes alone. When the child is going to visit a parent or family member alone, they need to fly unaccompanied. The same is true if a child is traveling to or from school. When children fly unaccompanied, the parents often get stressed out, hoping that everything goes alright on the plane. This anxiety can be worse if the child has autism.
What Is Autism?
Autism is a developmental disorder that varies in severity. The condition makes it difficult for children to interact socially and communicate. Repetitive or restricted patterns of thought and behavior also occur. Children with autism often live in their own world, and their parents struggle daily.
Alexa Bjornson knows all too well the struggles of autism. Her son, Landon, suffers from the condition. Alexa and Landon’s father split up, and Landon’s father moved across the country. This meant that in order to see his father, Landon would need to travel alone. Alexa didn’t have the money to fly there with him, fly home, fly back again to get him, and then fly home again. This meant that she had to send Landon on a flight alone as an unaccompanied minor. Sending him on a flight alone was often stressful for Alexa.
This wasn’t going to be Landon’s first time flying alone. Alexa says that even though he has flown five or six times to visit his father in the past, it doesn’t make her any less worried about him during the flight. She often worries that his seatmate will just want to sleep during the trip. If this is the case, she knows that Landon might keep them up during the flight. He does have trouble interacting with others, but he loves to ask questions. Because of this, Alexa wrote a note for Landon to give his seatmate for his most recent trip.
In her note to Landon’s seatmate, she explained that he had autism. She also explained a bit about what autism is. She let the seatmate know that Landon might ask several times if they were almost there. To compensate the seatmate for their time answering her son’s questions, she added a $10 bill with the note. It was the least she could do. Not knowing what type of person would be sitting by her son, she thought a bit of incentive to be nice would be a good idea. She figured that it could pay for drinks that her son’s seatmate might need after answering all of her son’s questions.
Landon’s seatmate was a man named Ben Pedraza. Landon was fortunate to have been given the seat next to Ben because he was very kind. Ben says that the two were telling each other jokes. Landon asked that Ben stop telling so many dad jokes, which Ben thought was hilarious. He says that they had a great flight together. Mom sends autistic son on
Alexa got a message from Ben on Facebook. In the message, he wrote, “Alexa, My name is Ben. I was Landon’s seat neighbor for his flight to Portland. He did ask if we were there yet several times, but he was a great travel buddy. We had good times and played a few rounds of rock-paper-scissors. He’s a great kid, and you’re a lucky mom. I appreciate the $10, but it wasn’t necessary. I donated it to Autism-Society.org in honor of Landon. Have a great day!” He also posted a selfie of him and Landon.
Alexa was so touched by Ben’s message that she shared it on Facebook. She wanted people to know how kind Ben was to her son during the flight. In her post, she wrote how she was grateful to Ben, and it was nice to know that were still people in the world who wanted to make a difference in the world. She says she even cried a bit, thinking about how kind this man was to Ben.
It wasn’t long before the Facebook post was shared thousands of times. The post went viral, and people all over the world knew Ben’s story of kindness. People commented on his kindness and liked the post thousands of times.
Ben was interviewed by the local news when he returned home from his trip. He says that he was happy to be there for Landon during the trip, and he was a really great kid. He says that Landon made the trip just as enjoyable for him as he did for Landon. He told the reporter that it was one of the best flights he had ever been on. This is a wonderful story.