As a person living with cerebral palsy, I naturally see myself as an advocate for others living with it and others with various special/adaptive needs. Often times this means that a vast majority of my time is spent empowering others to live the fullest and richest lives possible.
On the other hand, being an advocate also means that I speak out against injustice. So when the story of a 19-year-old disabled girl being tackled by the TSA started making waves, my anger arose quickly (link here:), this young woman was traveling with her mother and had just finished her last treatment for a brain tumor. On top of undergoing treatment for a brain tumor, she was also said to be partially blind and deaf.
Now, though I have never had to go through treatment for any sort of tumor, by the grace of God. I would assume that this woman was wiped out from treatment and simply wanted to go home. If I’m wrong please correct me. But as the story plays out, the mother and daughter had made this same trip numerous times before. And never did they experience any difficulty. This time around, however, it was a different story, the young woman apparently set off a metal detector and was also confused by a search that was being conducted by TSA agents.
The mother tried to explain to TSA agents of her daughter’s conditions, it appeared that they simply had little regard for what the mother was trying to communicate to them, so when they daughter apparently tried “runny away” TSA guards tackled the young woman to the ground, as a result the young woman hit her head on the ground causing her head to split open.
Others have commented that the picture of the accident is worse than it seems, that people like myself are blowing things out of context. The fact is the only response that TSA has at the moment, is that people with various needs can call ahead of time. The only problem is that her mother stated that she did inform TSA, she even informed agents as things began to get a bit chaotic.
In my opinion, this whole situation could have been avoided, if TSA actually took into consideration what the mother was trying to communicate about her daughter’s needs. If they were still unclear of how to handle the situation, they could have easily made contact with a supervisor to gain further clarity… Instead, this tragedy had to happen. What upset me the most, is as a physically challenged person and someone who has flown a good amount, I have never had any problems with the TSA, they have always been professional and as kind as they can be.
I cannot even think of another time in history where something of this nature happened before. I believe that the biggest lessons that can be gleaned from this situation is communication. In that even if the mother didn’t inform TSA ahead of time and simply told them at the gate, something still could have been done that would have allowed for things to be handled in a sensitive manner.
This is in my opinion uncalled for regardless of what angle one chooses to spin it on. There must be firm consequences.