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Mother removed from Southwest Airlines flight after her autistic son, 3, refused to wear a face mask

A mother said her family were removed from a flight after her three-year-old autistic son would not wear a face mask.

Alyssa Sadler, from Houston, Texas, said her Southwest Airlines flight from Midland to Houston was returned to the gate when her son refused to wear the mask.

She was also traveling with her one-year-old daughter on Monday when her son began throwing a fit when she tried to put his face mask on.

The boy has a sensory processing disorder and does not like to have his face touched.

A flight attendant noticed he would not put the mask on and the flight was returned to the gate despite Ms Sadler’s note from the boy’s doctor about his condition. 

Ms Sadler wrote on Facebook: ‘When you get kicked off your flight because your 3 year old autistic child won’t wear a mask.

‘Looks like I’m stuck here in midland.’ 

Ms Sadler said the captain announced the reason for the early return over the loudspeaker, telling the plane that a noncompliant passenger refused to wear a facial covering. 

She said an escort helped remove her family’s luggage and that airline officials later wrote up her son for noncompliance to the carrier’s policy. 

She said: ‘He was screaming. He was throwing a fit. He was screaming “no, no, no”. 

‘They’re going over the security safety features and all that, and the flight attendant walks by and tells me that he has to put a mask on,’ she told KPRC.

‘So, I try to put the mask on him. He is three and has autism and sensory processing disorders, so he wouldn’t keep the mask on.’

In July, Southwest and American Airlines they were tightening their face mask rules by eliminating exceptions for medical reasons, with children under two exempt from the policy.

All US airlines have similar mandatory face mask policies and the family will receive a full refund for their flight. 

Southwest Airlines said: ‘We communicate this policy to all customers at multiple touchpoints throughout the travel journey, so we regret any inconvenience this family experienced.

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

A member of the family will drive Ms Sadler and her children to Houston today. 

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