A family was kicked off a Spirit Airlines flight because their non-verbal autistic four-year-old son would not wear a mask.
The family had a note from the child’s doctor saying that he is exempt due to his condition and is protected under the American Disability Act.
Callie Kimball of Little Rock, Ark., told THV11 that her husband, son, and babysitter had flown to Las Vegas on Spirit Airlines to visit family.
“He had a medical note from his physician stating that he’s exempt from wearing masks because whenever he wears a mask he holds his breath or he starts freaking out and he will harm himself,” said Kimball.
Despite the note, Kimball says that her family was removed from the plane by crew that claimed autism is not a disability.
“He has a disability. It’s protected under the American Disability Act and they go ‘No no no no. Autism’s not a disability. He has to wear a mask or he has to get off the plane.'”
To make matters worse, her son is obsessed with airplanes and was extremely upset to be removed from one.
“Kids on the spectrum, they’re usually very obsessed with something. He is obsessed with airplanes. So he was sitting in his seat being quietly and looking out the window, and this lady was like ‘Get off!'” Kimball said.
The airline also refused to let the babysitter leave with them, causing her to get stranded in Dallas while he found another way home.
American Airlines accepted the note and let the boy fly, but it ended up costing the family roughly a thousand dollars.
“I’ve never in my life, like being the parent of an autistic kid is really hard and I’ve never in my life experienced that kind of discrimination from someone,” Kimball added.
Spirit Airlines told the local news outlet that “our existing policy does not provide for medical exemptions, regardless of diagnosis. Our Team Members explained this to a family traveling today, but never questioned anyone’s medical status in the process. “