Feedback
News

TSA Reaches Out to Mother of Boy in Viral Pat-Down Video

The TSA has reached out to the mother of a 13-year-old Texas boy after a video of his pat-down at an airport security checkpoint went viral.

In a Facebook post earlier in the week, Jennifer Williamson said that she and her son Aaron were "treated like dogs" when they went through the TSA checkpoint at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Sunday.

On Thursday, Williamson, whose Facebook post about the pat-down went viral, said she had been contacted by the TSA, who asked her to participate in a three-tiered solution to making the regulations for children and people with challenges more sensitive and clear.

Teen and mom speak out about invasive TSA pat-down 2:33

She said she was asked to become a member of disabilities coalition within the TSA, in addition to collaborating with them to author a piece of training that would address sensitivity for the agents and helping the TSA to clarify language on the website about procedure and policies.

"A lot of the public has had poor relations with the TSA and the TSA has not responded to those complaints," Williamson told NBC News. "Even if they ask a question, [the public] thinks the TSA is snappy. [The TSA] wants to improve etiquette with employees."

In a statement to NBC News, the TSA confirmed it had reached out to Williamson.

"TSA engaged in conversation with Ms. Williamson to learn more about her family's screening experience at Dallas Fort Worth airport. While the proper procedures were followed, we appreciate her feedback and look forward to continued dialogue," TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said in an email.

Williamson said she thinks it's important to address how children and people with unique challenges have different needs when going through a security checkpoint. She said her daughter had an injured ankle and needed special help, too, in the TSA line.

She said she had an hour-long phone call with representatives from the TSA that was very productive and positive. It was followed up by an email with "verb-age that was firmer."

"TSA has a long-standing partnership with a coalition of disability advocacy groups, community-based organizations and individuals, and we welcome Ms. Williamson's input," Farbstein said. "TSA is committed to ensuring the security of travelers, while treating all with dignity and respect."

The incident on Sunday began after Williamson asked if Aaron, who has sensory processing disorder — which means sensory signals aren't received and organized into an appropriate response, according to the STAR Institute — could be checked in a different way to prevent overwhelming him with touch.

She says a Transportation Security Administration agent told her it was either a pat-down or they would not be able to continue into the terminal. The TSA said in a statement that the pat-down took two minutes, but the family was there for 45 minutes so the procedure could be explained to Williamson.

Now Aaron, who was asking what he did to merit the pat-down days after the family flew from Texas to San Diego, California, on vacation —is doing much better and is less anxious about the flight home on Tuesday, Williamson said.

"He's quite proud about the situation," Williamson said. "He's still using some of the same language, which goes back to the fact that it was a traumatizing situation," she said. "He thinks it'll be different on the way back."