“Flight Risk”

Excerpts of Stories by or About Persons with a Disability

Jordan pedals his bike down the sunny, dirt path, handling his mountain bike like an expert. Determined to beat his best friend Travis to the bottom, he grits his teeth and concentrates. In the end, he makes it to the bottom just behind Travis, but it’s no problem. The two boys high-five and Jordan invites Travis over to his house.

Jordan enjoys mountain biking, but has challenges with sensory processing. The first time Jordan’s parents signed him up for a biking group with other kids his age, he was told to bring along a snack during the ride. During the ride, he stopped to eat his snack. However, the leaders of the group wanted their riders to have their snacks at a later time. They told Jordan eating early was against the rules. Jordan became upset and ran away from the rest of the group.

When Jordan’s parents came to pick him up that day, they were told that their son was a “flight risk” and not welcome in the group. He was an insurance liability because he could not be trusted to remain with the other kids. Nevertheless, Jordan’s parents resolved to continue trying to find him a good group to be in with other kids.

Jordan had expected the day to play out in a certain way, but that didn’t match how the rest of the group expected it to.  For Jordan, it is very important that an activity is outlined clearly in advance and realistic expectations are established set because he has trouble adapting when events differ from what he was expecting. In addition, many adults are not aware that some children may lack the ability to adapt to unexpected changes quickly.

Despite his challenges, Joran is still perfectly capable of doing everything other kids do. What he needs to be successful is a patient and supportive community that understands his challenge and is willing to make small changes that accomodates his condition. With an appropriate framework in place, there is nothing stopping him from fitting in and making friends.

Recently, Jordan’s parents were able to find a Scout troop where the right support was available for him. Thanks to a knowledgeable group leader who understands what his needs are, Jordan has been able to bond with the other kids and not worry about his challenges. He’s made new friends, including Travis.

Leave a Reply