Those living with autism have expressed joy at the prospect for flying for the first time- This is thanks to Dr Nichola Booth, a Queen’s University Belfast professor, who developed Autism in the Air in conjunction with George Best City Airport.
The scheme allows those with Autism or those travelling with people with Autism to navigate the airport to reduce the stress of travelling. This includes experiencing busy check-in desks, security, departure gates and, in some instances, hopping onboard a ground plane.
The free scheme allows those living with or travelling with persons with autism to have a ‘try-before-you-buy’ experience, taking the stress and worry out of travelling for the first time.
Speaking to the BBC, Dr Nichola Booth said,
“What we noticed was that a lot of families of autistic children and young people were finding that going on holiday was a distressing experience,”
“Some actually avoided going on holiday altogether because of the unknown situation of an airport with all the crowds and the unfamiliar sounds associated with them.”
“Families really do benefit from this trial experience so that they can be less apprehensive about travelling in the future,”.
Dr Nichola Booth also is an advisor for the Accessibility Forum – a new initiative by George Best Airport to gather relevant people and organisations together to determine the most effective way to make the airport more accessible for those with disabilities.