Regional Center of Orange County partners with John Wayne Airport on special needs training

For parents of children with developmental disabilities, summer travel just got a little easier, thanks to a partnership between Regional Center of Orange County (RCOC) and John Wayne Airport.

RCOC experts met with nearly 40 public-facing Airport staff on June 26 to share practical ways to better assist travelers with developmental disabilities. Their presentation included:

  • Recognizing behaviors and signs that could indicate a person has a developmental disability, with a focus on intellectual disability and autism;
  • How best to approach travelers with developmental disabilities; and
  • Helping with specific situations that might be encountered, such as travelers who are lost or experiencing a “meltdown.”

Assistance available to families through the Airport’s Helping Hands program is also covered in RCOC’s new 2019 Summer Recreation Resource Guide, which parents can use to plan engaging staycations, vacations and activities for their children with developmental disabilities.

The free 18-page guide is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese and provides details on more than 100 local recreation, social, camp, and sports/fitness programs, as well as summer events and activities suitable for children with special needs.

It also includes information about beach wheelchairs, discounts and free passes, and questions parents can ask to help identify program features that might be important for their children.

“All programs are legally required to serve those with disabilities,” said RCOC’s Executive Director Larry Landauer. “But parents can better ensure their children have a good experience if they explain that their child has special needs, and then work collaboratively with the organization or provider to determine if the program is a good fit.”

Regional Center of Orange County is the private, nonprofit organization contracted by the State of California to coordinate life-long services and supports to nearly 22,000 Orange County residents with developmental disabilities and their families. Developmental disabilities include intellectual disabilities, autism, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. More information is available at

The Helping Hands program provides personalized assistance to ease some of the stress associated with airport travel, including facilitating calls to TSA and the airlines, and helping guide travelers through the arrival, check-in, security and boarding processes. For more information about the Helping Hands program, call (949) 252-5200 or email [email protected]

This article was released by the Regional Center of Orange County.