So you are about to take the family on holidays and with that a sinking feeling comes over you. How will your child cope with all the strange noises, the strange sounds, the hustle and bustle of check in and of course the dreaded security check.
Your child is unique and special, and in the right environment thrives, but airports are stressful on nuerotypical children generally and can be unbearable for children with Autism and sensory needs.
Australia is thankfully catching up and is providing a more accessible world for kids with Autism and sensory challenges. Many Airports around Australia are adopting the Hidden Disabilities program, and are providing Social scripts so kids and adults know what to expect while at the airport .
Gold Coast Airport is leading the way and their programs far exceeds that of any other Australian Airport. They not only have The Hidden Disabilities program but also offer Social stories for both domestic and international arrivals and departures, Social story videos, a terminal sensory map, children’s “My Airport” activity book and the AmbassaPAW program.
The Hidden Disabilities Program at the airport allows you to collect a Hidden Disabilities lanyard to wear through not only the Gold Coast Airport, but also Brisbane and Melbourne Airports. Wearing the lanyard when you are at the airport indicates to staff that you and your family may need a little extra help, guidance or time with the airport process. Airport staff have been trained to recognise either a sunflower or iceberg lanyard and to provide you with any help you may need at that stage of your journey through the airport.
Most Airports throughout Australia also provide Social scripts and sensory maps. Helping prepare your child for what to expect, hear and see while travelling through an airport. These can be downloaded before you travel and even carried with you throughout your journey to reference at any time.
The most exciting of all the Gold Coast programs is the AmbassaPAW program, it engages volunteer therapy dogs to help alleviate the stress often associated with travelling. Anyone is free to stop in for a cuddle with the furriest members of the GCA Ambassador Team, Ranji and Gary.