The UK’s first Autism and Neurodiversity Academy has teamed up with Newcastle International Airport making the North-east a beacon of best practice in the travel and transportation sector.
Thanks to bespoke training specifically tailored to the needs of staff and customers of Newcastle International Airport, families using the airport can now do so knowing the needs of their family members who see and understand the world in a different way, will be understood.
The pioneering training has seen airport leaders and autism practitioners collaborate to create an autism passport so times of anxiety and discomfort can be minimised.
Newcastle International Airport Chief Executive, David Laws, said: “We are delighted to be able to partner with the NEAS to make the small changes that will have a big impact on people with autism. We are hoping that by the summer holidays there will be nothing now stopping families using the airport or having the holidays they deserve.”
To make the airport experience less of a struggle for children and adults with autism, the North East Autism Society, which has launched the new academy, has worked with the Passenger Services team to make sure they know where quiet spaces are within the airport so families can be helped to find a less noisy, less crowded area to wait.
Groundbreaking steps also included the downloadable autism passport to ensure a ‘fast track’ service for the family and the creation of a social story about the airport, so people with a range of neurodiverse conditions can familiarise themselves with the environment and what they can expect to happen, before they turn up on the day.
John Phillipson, Chief Executive of ANDA, said: “This will open up a world of possibilities for people who see and understand the world in a more diverse way. Busy, unfamiliar places, with signs to read, corridors to navigate, noises and smells to deal with, can be so off putting that many families, or indeed adults, will have never even attempted to travel in this way.
“We work tirelessly not just to provide services at a local level but to make sure people with a range of neurodiverse conditions can have the full, rich life they deserve. This is another fantastic step in the right direction to make this happen.”