When 5-year-old Harrison embarked on his first holiday outside of the UK, his autism made his time in the airport rather unpleasant. The experience for him and his mother, Marie Lao left them feeling like they would be unable to book a holiday for the next 3 years…
…BUT, a new scheme implemented at Cardiff Airport now hopes to put his worries at ease, with the airport’s disability wristband scheme which alerts staff discreetly to people who have autism. Ms Lao said it’s made “all the difference”.
Previously, she claims “We took him away when he was little, and he was really difficult.”
“He was very stressed, which was obviously distressing for us to see.”
Harrison was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3 and last travelled when he was just 2 years old.
“Since he was diagnosed, I’ve realised how many places there are who don’t have things for people with autism. Some places don’t have the right facilities at all.”
The wristband, which staff can easily identify, means the wearer has access to a quieter room, can avoid queues and can even visit the airport prior to their journey to get familiar with their surroundings.
The scheme is a partnership between the airport and Autism Puzzle, a charity which aims to link families at various stages of their autism journey to provide extra support. “I emailed in and they emailed straight back and then they sent a band and the letter,” Ms Lao added.
“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.”