Achieving the Courage to Enjoy the Adventure of Air Travel

University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences program partners with Miami International Airport to help individuals with autism enjoy air travel

The University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) partnered with Miami International Airport to launch the MIAair (Airport Information and Readiness) program – an initiative designed to give individuals with autism-related disorders and hearing loss the confidence to enjoy air travel.

“CARD decided to partner with Miami International Airport for MIAair because this project provides families of individuals with autism and related disabilities with tools to prepare their loved ones for air travel,” said Dr. Diane Adreon, Associate Director of the CARD program at the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences. “Today, CARD provides free services to more than 9,000 families in South Florida. This project will expand our reach and touch the lives of many more individuals with autism around the world.”

‌MIAair is the first U.S. airport program to partner with a major university and medical institution offering guided travel rehearsals and materials for individuals with special needs – the Ear Institute at UHealth, the University of Miami Health System, is also assisting in the partnership.

“MIA and CARD have done a wonderful job launching MIAair for patients and families living with autism related disorders,” said Fred Telischi, Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology at UHealth. “The Ear Institute at UHealth looks forward to further expanding the reach of MIAair to include those with hearing conditions such as hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders. Our combined efforts and resources will ensure that an even greater number of individuals can experience the joy of a family vacation.”

After a press conference by MIA officials last week, UM experts and UHealth physicians, along with MIAair participants and their families, received a simulation of the airline check-in and TSA checkpoint screening process followed by the grand finale – boarding an actual aircraft.

“We want to ensure that anyone can experience the magic and wonder of flight, regardless of their disability,” said Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio T. Gonzalez. “Air travel allows us to discover new places and cultures and the MIAair program helps to make this possible for all South Florida residents with special needs. We are extremely excited to partner with the University of Miami – another global leader in our community - in this service to their patients and all special needs residents, and we look forward to opening new doors of opportunity for them.” 

MIAair’s materials, which include travel checklists and tips in both English and Spanish, illustrate the entire travel experience for the participant. The booklets provide families with step-by-step photos and instructions about airport procedures, from getting a boarding pass to passing through security and boarding a plane.

To learn more about MIAair, visit

About CARD
Housed in the Department of Psychology at the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences, UM-NSU CARD is a state-funded free resource and support program dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with autism and related disabilities including deaf-blindness and pervasive developmental disorders. 

‌‌       MIAair program for individuals with autism launches at Miami International Airport. 


December 02, 2015