Come Fly with Me….
Fun Fact Gatwick Airport is located near Crawley in West Sussex, Southeast England, 29.5 miles (47.5 km) South of Central London
Fun Fact it is also known as London Gatwick
Fun Fact it is a major international airport
Fun Fact Gatwick Airport now has a sensory room!
Yes! You heard me right.
Look let’s be honest here, airports aren’t the best place for someone with Autism because airports can be noisy, chaotic, stressful places.
But negotiating airports if you have Autism can be a nightmare.
Queuing, security, announcements, crowds and more can all combine to make it a pretty overwhelming experience for anyone with Autism.
So wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a sensory room where people with Autism could prepare themselves for flying in a relaxed comfortable, quiet space, where we could de stress?
Well lucky for us then that a mum Maria Cook from Crawley in England along with her son are the ones responsible for interacting with experts at Gatwick Airport to come up with this sensory room.
So what would you expect to find in such a room?
Well this video below will explain it all to you
So what do you need to know?
First come first in….
The sensory room is free to use, accessible for wheelchairs and availability is on a first come, first served basis to passengers departing from the North Terminal.
Once inside what exactly is inside this sensory room?
The ‘chill-out zone’ for those needing calm includes floor cushions, bean bags and digital display panels, which generate colourful visual wall features. The separate ‘interactive zone’ stimulates the senses through activities including:
Catherine wheel – colour and sound displays including firework effects.
Abstract tactile panels – raised and recessed fluid shapes in contrasting textures.
Colour match panel – classical music, mood lighting, and game to improve memory, colour recognition and motor skills.
Sound to light show – sounds converted into a dazzling light show of colour.
Waterless rainbow tube – colour wheel with both calming and stimulating effects.
How do I book?
To use our sensory room before your flight, visit the special assistance reception in the departure lounge to reserve a 45-minute session. We recommend you arrive at the special assistance reception at least three hours before your flight.
The sensory room is located after security, so can only be used by passengers flying from our North Terminal.
For more information, you can head to this link here
Currently only Gatwick Airport is offering this type of service.
I expect that other airports once they see the success of this will no doubt be in touch with either Gatwick Airport or Maria from Crawley, who knows.
Commenting on the news Maria Cook, Autism Ambassador for Gatwick Airport, said:
“I cannot thank the whole team involved in this project enough for making it a reality.
Working closely with Gatwick I explained the vast benefits of having such a wonderful facility available and the positive impact it has for people with complex conditions and their families and they did not hesitate to create something very special indeed.
It is the most amazing Sensory Room I have ever seen.
“To have somewhere like this to explore and reduce anxieties before boarding a flight for someone with Autism, Dementia, a learning difficulty to name but a few conditions, is so important for the person themselves, their carers and accompanying family and it could very well make the difference between someone actually getting on the plane or not at all because it had become too stressful.”
One thing that I do know is that this is a step in the right direction and we should begin to have this conversation and debate and ensure that other airports and not just UK ones begin to offer this service.
As I would like to see it rolled out across all airports all over the world.
Why should it only be limited to one airport 29.5 miles (47.5 km) South of Central London?
Below is a link that I found covering all of the UK’s major airports
“At-a-glance guide to Autism-friendly airports”
Carry on the Conversation
What are your thoughts? What do you think of the sensory room? Do you think that your local airport would benefit from such a room?
Let me know in the comments below.
As always, I can also be found on Twitter: @AutisticNick9 and at my email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.