Southwest removes family from flight after 3-year-old with autism refuses mask

National and World

His mother even had a note from his doctor, but that didn't make a difference

HOUSTON (KPRC/CNN Newsource) — Having a child with autism comes with certain challenges but in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a whole new challenge — the face mask.

A Texas family’s day went from bad to worse after getting kicked off of a plane because their 3-year-old son was terrified to wear a mask.

Southwest Airlines got Alyssa Sadler and her two children across the state to Midland last week but now she has to find a different way home.

“It was just not a good morning,” Sadler said.

She said her flight to Houston left the gate Monday morning, only to quickly return when her 3-year-old son, who has autism, wouldn’t wear a mask.

“He was screaming. He was throwing a fit. He was screaming, ‘No, no, no,'” she said.

She said her son has sensory processing disorder and doesn’t like his face touched.

Sadler even had a note from his doctor, but that didn’t make a difference.

Southwest Airlines says all customers over age 2 have to cover their faces while traveling — something that’s pointed out during the booking and online check-in process.

The airline said in a statement:

“If a customer is unable to wear a face covering for any reason, Southwest regrets that we are unable to transport the individual.”

“I think there needs to be something in place for children, or even adults, with disabilities who can’t wear a mask. They should have some kind of exemption,” Sadler said.

She said her son didn’t wear a mask while boarding or even on the flight to Midland.

Now it looks like they won’t be flying back.

Sadler said a family member will drive them back from Midland Thursday.

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