Airport accessibility for autistic child means he can go on holiday again

Going on holiday is a thrilling time full of anticipation waiting to explore a new country or simply enjoy some sun. However, travelling with a learning, sensory or physical disability can make this experience daunting.

UPSETTING

Earlier this month, affordable airline Jet2 came under fire after a ten-year-old boy was made to prove his disability in an extremely upsetting and humiliating experience for the young boy and his family. It’s also not the first, or last, time this has happened to disabled people travelling.

However, Cardiff Airport has recently introduced a new disability wristband scheme which is set to improve the holiday experience for many people. It all started after five-year-old Harrison became extremely stressed at the airport before his first holiday.

NEW SCHEME

Harrison is autistic and being in an airport can be distressing due to sensory overload. The disability wristband scheme from Cardiff Airport, run in partnership with Autism Puzzles, involves sending passengers a band so staff can identify passengers who need additional assistance.

The wristband allows passengers to visit the airport before their journey to get familiar with surroundings, use quieter waiting rooms and avoid queues. Harrison’s family has not been abroad since his first experience in the airport – now the family are planning a holiday.

ADVENTURE

“I emailed in and [Cardiff Airport] emailed straight back and then they sent a band and the letter,” Harrison’s mum, Ms Lao said. “I’ve been showing Harrison the band every day, and talking to him about what will happen

“To look at Harrison, people think there is nothing wrong with him, but queuing for and getting on a plane will be stressful for him.

“Having that band and the airport being aware of it, staff will know why he acts the way he does and what to do. Little things like this make all the difference to us.”

It’s hoped the scheme will encourage more airports to improve their accessibility and provide additional assistance to allow more people to enjoy time abroad.

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