Gatwick Airport and The National Autistic Society joined forces World Autism Awareness Week this month by hosting an Autistic Awareness Day for children on the autism spectrum and their families.
The airport’s North Terminal hosted two sessions attended by more than 50 children with autism, alongside their family and carers, to provide a fun and engaging overview of the airport environment and security processes.
Autistic people often see, hear and feel the world in a different, more intense way, which can mean they feel overwhelmed by ‘too much information’ when out in public.
Travelling through an airport can be a particularly apprehensive experience.
Representatives of airlines, immigration, police, security, special assistance and the terminal team - including airport dogs - were on hand to explain airport processes and answer any questions.
The Awareness Day, on April 2, was also attended by the National Autistic Society’s cultural ambassador, Alan Gardner, star of the Channel 4 series, The Autistic Gardener.
Caroline Emms of Gatwick’s Terminal Team, who organised the day and is the mother of an autistic son, said: “We want to create a positive environment for all our passengers travelling through Gatwick and to help make their journey memorable for all the right reasons.
“Travelling through an airport can be a challenge for autistic people, which is why we’ve teamed up with the National Autistic Society to help families better understand what to expect, while ensuring airport staff are on hand to assist.
“I am delighted that with the support of the airport community and NAS over 50 children were able to take part in the sessions helping to make the day a huge success.”
Daniel Cady autism access development manager at the National Autistic Society added: “The awareness days that Caroline and her colleagues run at Gatwick are a fantastic initiative.
“They’re not only hugely beneficial for parents and autistic people, they also raise awareness about autism and are fun for everyone involved.”
Anyone requiring help when travelling through Gatwick is urged to contact their airline or the airport’s special assistance team on 0344 892 0322 and select option 4.
To find out more the natuonal Autistic Society go to: www.autism.org.uk