More than 50 children attended an Autistic Awareness Day held at Gatwick Airport last week.
To mark the start of National Autism Awareness Week on Saturday April 2, the airport’s North Terminal teamed up with the National Autistic Society to host two sessions to provide a fun and engaging overview of the airport environment and security processes.
Caroline Emms of Gatwick’s Terminal Team who organised the Awareness 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.”
Anyone who requires assistance when travelling through Gatwick Airport is encouraged to contact their airline or the airport’s special assistance team 0344 892 0322 and select option 4.
Daniel Cady, Autism Access Development Manager at the National Autistic Society, said: “Going on holiday can be difficult for many autistic adults and children who can need fixed routines to help them cope with the world around them. Unfamiliar and overwhelming environments - like noisy, bustling airports - can cause them extreme anxiety.
“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.
“We at the National Autistic Society have been working with Gatwick to support all that Caroline is doing, helping them bring in often small changes such as pre-flight information to help people prepare for their trip, clearer signage and increased staff awareness.
“We all expect to be able to take a plane for our holidays or business and it’s important that airports and airlines know what they can do to make the experience as easy as possible for autistic people and their families.”
The National Autistic Society has launched a new three-year campaign called Too Much Information to help the public understand more about autism.
In their launch report they reveal how poor public understanding of autism is pushing autistic people and their families into isolation, in some cases leaving them feeling trapped in their own homes.
To find out more about the Too Much Information campaign, see the campaign film and learn more about autism go to: www.autism.org.uk/tmi.