Autism and a Red Eye

Autism and a Red Eye

Flying with my son

Over the summer, my son and I flew a red eye to the East Coast. I had taken several red eyes over the last few years, and my son had even taken one with me.

I find red eyes are less expensive and I take them because I don’t fly well, which means I won’t sleep the night before a flight anyway, so I figure I might as well take that time to be in the air.

How did my son do?

The first time he did it, a few years back, he managed to fall asleep for a couple of hours.

This time, he didn’t.

My son loves to fly, so he doesn’t have the same issues I do.

But, it is just darn uncomfortable to try to sleep on an airplane. And, he just couldn’t do it.

He tried to close his eyes and even to lie down on the tray table, but he didn’t fall asleep.

How did he do after we landed?

Well, unfortunately, we had scheduled a very busy day after not sleeping the night before.

Ultimately, we were heading about three hours into Canada near the Georgian Bay.

However, before that, my sister-in-law and I wanted to do some things at Niagara Falls.

We spent about six hours at the Falls doing various things like Maid of the Mist ride (taking a boat and going very near the falls) and Below the Falls (walking through a long tunnel to get a glimpse of what it looks like behind the falls.

How’d my son do?

He did okay, for a while.

Like myself, I knew he was running on no sleep. I knew that this might lead to some behaviors.

No sleep mixed with autism, this can be quite a combination.

He was fine on the Maid of the Mist tour, including getting drenched like the rest of us.

When we got to the Below the Falls tour, though, he did have some trouble because he’s not a huge fan of tunnels and/or dark, small, and enclosed spaces. I had actually forgotten that he had had that issue in the past.

Keeping trying

As I typically do, I encouraged him to stick with it. I always feel as if even uncomfortable experiences have some worth to them, they’ll help a person grow and succeed.

He held my hand, but did the tunnel experience! He wasn’t all that happy/comfortable, but the tunnels really weren’t that long and he did okay.

Again, I was happy that he tried it and got through it.


However, things did turn. Later that day, I was not all that happy with him.

In hindsight, it was definitely a time when his lack of sleep caught up with him.

The red eye lack of sleep and autism, not a good combination

We were at lunch and he was really only focused on two things, lying down and plugging in his cell phone (he was running low on battery).

Neither of those things are okay to do in a restaurant, and it was difficult for me to handle him.

I knew this had to be a combination of no sleep, and behaviors (he’s a bit obsessed about the battery life on his cell phone), and autism.

However, I had to talk to him several times, especially since the waiters at this restaurant were none-too-pleased with his attempts to lie down and plug in his phone.

What happened the rest of the day?

As one might have predicted, my son did fall asleep on the car ride up north.

It was a nap he really needed.

By the time we made it up to our stop, he was a bit better, even though that lack of sleep behavior reared its ugly head once more right before bedtime. It was a small issue that grew bigger, mostly because he really needed to sleep.

I explained things to him and just put him to bed.

Things were much better in the morning! Autism and a Red Eye.

Autism and a Red Eye

Here are some more tips for people flying with a child with autism:


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