GATWICK’S autism ambassador Maria Cook and organisations from the airport marked World Autism Awareness Day.
More than 30 families attended the event, designed to give children and adults with autism, their carers and families an overview of the airport before they travel.
Using an airport can be a challenge for people affected by autism and the event in the North Terminal allowed families to “check in”, ride on assistance buggies, meet trained security dogs and the police, watch the X-ray machines in action and talk with staff.
Gatwick is the UK’s first officially recognised autism-friendly airport.
Representatives from across its services attended the event, including its autism champions, staff from airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, security and special assistance teams, the police, the fire service and immigration officials.
Autistic people often see, hear and feel the world in a different, more intense way, which can mean they feel overwhelmed by too much information when out in public.
Travelling through an airport can be a particularly challenging experience.
Anyone who requires assistance when travelling through Gatwick is encouraged to contact the airport’s special assistance team or their airline.
Maria Cook said: “I am so proud to be Gatwick’s autism ambassador and to play a part in the airport’s hidden disability assistance programme and official autism friendly accreditation.
“I hope to see other UK airports follow Gatwick’s lead and establish official autism-friendly programmes of their own.”