Autistic teen who can only communicate through her iPad is traumatised after American Airlines staff tell her turn it off
Carly Fleischmann suffers from Oral Motor Apraxia, which means her thoughts are clear in her mind, but they get mixed up in her speechTherapist: ‘If she was about to have a seizure, there is no way she could tell me without her iPad’
A teenager who has autism was told by American Airlines to turn off her iPad – the only way she can communicate with people.
Carly Fleischmann suffers from Oral Motor Apraxia, which means her thoughts which are clear in her mind, but become mixed up in her speech.
She was distressed to be told by a flight attendant when travelling from Los Angeles to her home in Toronto that she had to turn off her iPad during takeoff.
Airplane mode disables the wireless features of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to comply with airline regulations and that setting on Carly’s iPad is fully operational for her communication needs.
In an email, Carly told ABC News, ‘I use the iPad like a prosthetic limb and not as a toy. I think that is what is blinding people on this issue.’
Her aide and therapist Howard Dalal who was traveling with Carly said: ‘If she was about to have a seizure, there is no way she could tell me without her iPad.’
On her Facebook page Carly wrote: ‘It was not until the captain got involved and agreed that this was a crucial thing for me that I was allowed to keep my iPad.
Carly was told by American Airlines to turn off her iPad – the only way she can communicate with people
‘The flight intended still insisted that I put it in front of my seat out of my reach. I was watching the stewardess on the flight the whole trip.
‘She did not stop talking. Imagine asking her not to talk for over 50 minutes. Do you really think she can do it?’
The pilot told Carly that she could leave her iPad on and later told the pair at customs in Toronto that the policy was ‘ridiculous.’
Carly’s post on her Facebook wall
Mr Dalal said that the pilot admitted that they use iPads during takeoff and landing.
Carly, who hit the headlines when it was revealed after years of silence she had finally managed to communicate by using a computer, posted her first complaint to American Airlines on Facebook: ‘I am begging you as a active passenger on your flights to change your policy when it comes to dealing with people with autism and other special needs.
‘Its time for you to move with the times and understand that a iPad is not just for fun it’s for people who really need it too.’
In an emailed statement to ABC News, American Airlines said, ‘Our flight attendants are responsible for following U.S. Department of Transportation regulations on the accommodation of customers with disabilities.
‘American’s electronic device policy is designed to be in full compliance with the DOT. Likewise, Federal safety rules require the stowage of personal items during take-off and landing and prohibit the use of electronic devices at the same periods.
They said the regretted any discomfort Carly had experienced.
Carly and her therapist said she had never experienced an issue with the iPad before on a flight and she had even used it flying to Los Angeles with American Airlines and not had a problem
In an email with American Airlines seen by ABC News, a customer service representative said the airline is reviewing the situation and waiting to hear back from the flight crew, but that because of travel schedules, it may take several weeks.