In a recent article by Airport Parking Shop, the light was shed on how travelling with autism can, at some points, be a stressful experience.
It was thought that UK airports could actively do more to take this stress off of passengers, with staff training and fast track security being two of the strongest suggestions. With this in mind, this week’s news that Glasgow Airport has become the first airport in the UK to provide specialist staff training, in order to aid and assist the Autism Reality Experience is brilliant to hear!
The innovative sensory experience is aimed to train staff in understanding the difficulties and strains that people with autism and their carers face. Practical sessions helps to better explain how sensitivities to light, sound and environmental changes can impact individuals on the autism spectrum.
Staff learning was amplified by the airport’s 5,000 strong staff visiting the Autism Reality Experience’ mobile sensory unit outside the main terminal. People participating got a chance to attempt to answer a series of questions while being distracted by an overload to their vision, hearing and thoughts.
The Autism Reality Experience, developed by Experience Training Ltd’s Managing Director Glenn Knight, was created to attempt to bring realistic guidance to hospitals, hospices, day centers and other facilities who work with those who suffer from autism. Glasgow Airport’s Terminal Compliance Manager Paul Scott said: “We regularly receive requests from the carers or parents of people with autism who are planning to travel through the airport and the level of support they require can vary depending on the specific needs of the person travelling.
“We’ve been arranging pre-flight visits to the airport from families for a number of years. “These can vary from a coffee and a chat through the process to arranging airport familiarisation tours. “The number of requests we receive each year is increasing, so we thought it was important to bring in the Autism Reality Experience team to ensure that both our staff and passengers can better appreciate the difficulties faced by people with autism doing something seemingly as straightforward as going through an airport.”
Charlene Tait, Director of Autism Practice and Research at the charity Scottish Autism, said: “We are delighted with Glasgow Airport and fully support its commitment to create the best possible environment for people with autism.
“The crowds of people, bustling atmosphere, security requirements and higher than usual noise levels, which are common features in many airports, along with the added tension that accompanies flying, can make air travel untenable for individuals who live with the condition. “We are very pleased to see Glasgow Airport taking the lead within their industry by introducing this new initiative.”