A video of a TSA pat-down search of a special needs child at the Dallas Airport went viral on Sunday after a furious mother shared the incident on her Facebook account. Jennifer Williamson said she didn’t tape the entire interchange between her teenage son and a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent, but encouraged social media to share the “horrifying” pat-down search video to “make this viral like the other children’s videos with TSA.”
According to People Magazine on Tuesday, Jennifer Williamson was “livid” over the lengthy hold and pat-down search given to her 13-year-old special needs son, Aaron, by the TSA at the Dallas Airport on Sunday. Williamson called the TSA pat-down search “invasive,” deeming it unnecessary since her son reportedly did not set off any alarms and “passed through the detector just fine,” as the family attempted to get through the TSA screening on Sunday at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).
Jennifer Williamson says son Aaron,who has sensory processing disorder,detained for more than hour at Dallas Airport https://t.co/xdDr8XBExL
— watcher_machine (@banawedata) March 28, 2017
Williamson also claims the TSA pat-down search of her son caused them to miss their flight, adding that Aaron was detained for “well over an hour” at the security checkpoint. The TSA defended the pat-down search of the child, which they say was triggered by Aaron’s laptop. Williamson captured the pat-down search for just over two minutes — a video that the “furious” mother then uploaded to Facebook, where it’s since been viewed over five million times, with 85,000 shares, 39,000 reactions, and over 53,000 mixed comments from other Facebook users.
Aaron reportedly suffers from Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), a disorder in which the “brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses,” according to WebMD. SPD currently isn’t recognized as a “medical condition,” but Williamson says the TSA pat-down search of Aaron, who’s sensitive to touch, left him confused and saying for several hours that he didn’t know what he did to initiate the search.
“He is still several hours later saying ‘I don’t know what I did. What did I do?’ I am livid.”
“I wish I had taped the entire interchange because it was horrifying. We had two DFW police officers that were called and flanking him on each side. Somehow these power-tripping TSA agents who are traumatizing children and doing whatever they feel like without any cause, need to be reined in.”
Jennifer Williamson posted a video to Facebook on Sunday that shows a TSA agent thoroughly patting down her 13-y… https://t.co/SUsNSmvA58
— Thus Spake (@thus_spake) March 28, 2017
The TSA continues to defend the pat-down search in an attempt to clear up any confusion brought on by the 2-minute viral video clip. According to the TSA, Aaron and his family was only detained for approximately 45 minutes — time that included the pat-down search, along with a complete search of three carry-on bags. The TSA also said that the entire procedure was explained to Aaron prior to the pat-down search and was observed by Jennifer Williamson, along with two DFW police officers.
After Aaron’s laptop set off an alarm, Williamson reportedly requested an alternative screening for her special needs son, rather than the typical pat-down screening, which, according to TSA.gov is the alternative to other types of screening. TSA.gov goes on to explain the new pat-down procedure, that reportedly went into effect earlier this month, adding that a pat-down search “may include inspection of the head, neck, arms, torso, legs, and feet. This includes head coverings and sensitive areas such as breasts, groin, and the buttocks” — search procedures which were clearly visible in the pat-down video of Aaron.
The TSA agent in the video clip shared by Williamson can be seen adjusting Aaron’s clothing during the pat-down search, as well as repeatedly patting-down “sensitive areas,” which some comments say was “way too excessive, over-the-top, and unacceptable” for a pat-down search of a child. Other comments countered that the TSA agent was just doing his job and that the TSA has to screen if an alarm goes off. One comment added that Williamson asking for a different screening for her son probably set off alarms even further for the TSA, inadvertently causing a more thorough pat-down search.
Said Williamson in a CBS News interview, “I believe he was patted down excessively. They went over his sensitive areas, a little more than necessary, especially given that he wasn’t wearing bulky clothing or anything like that.”
The controversial TSA pat-down search video has certainly caused an ongoing all-out war of words on Williamson’s Facebook post over the last two days and has even caught the attention of Twitter, where one tweet said that the TSA owes Jennifer Williamson and Aaron an apology. One Twitter user shamed the TSA and added that her “autistic son would be damaged for life.”
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]