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Heathrow Airport opened its newly refurbished sensory room in Terminal 3 in the latter part of 2018 and they are working with the HAAG (Heathrow Access Advisory Group) and local charities to ensure they have suitable solutions to meet the needs of their passengers.
The sensory room has been designed for passengers with autism, dementia, cognitive impairment or other special needs who would benefit from a designated place to help them feel at ease before their flight.
Heathrow Airport will utilise this as a proof of concept and pilot opportunity to ensure they have the right facilities for families that require this service.
They launched the Sunflower lanyard scheme in December 2017 and to date they have issued over 8,000 to passengers travelling with different hidden disabilities and they continue to receive positive feedback regarding this.
Anna Kennedy, who is an international autism campaigner, visited Heathrow Terminal 3 during Autism Awareness Week and provided further feedback on the sensory room and guidance of where Heathrow can make some improvements.
Aside from Anna, Heathrow have also worked with Hillingdon Manor School of which Anna is a founder. Anna incorporated visits for some of her pupils at Heathrow.
Anna shares : ‘It’s always a pleasure to visit Heathrow and to speak to staff. I have been working and liaising alongside Nicole Day for almost 18 months and I am excited to see the sensory room and playroom which we have been speaking about come to fruition.
‘I love the Mr Men theme since this is very popular with a lot of autistic children and adults. This will enable families and their children experience some time out before their flight to their holiday destination.
‘I am also pleased to hear that sensory rooms will eventually be rolled out across all terminals. As we were leaving a parent shared: “This is a lifeline and much needed resource at all airports.”
‘I am looking forward to seeing further sensory and playrooms and working further in collaboration with Heathrow Airport.’
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He is also the editor-in-chief of Psychreg Journal Psychology, and writes a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today.
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