Gatwick Airport have opened the UK’s first airport sensory room.
The room, which is situated in the North Terminal, can be accessed by departing travellers and is well equipped to provide a calming space for people with autism, dementia, cognitive impairments and other additional needs.
The ‘chill-out zone’ for those needing calm includes floor cushions, bean bags and digital display panels, which generate colourful visual wall features. The separate ‘interactive zone’ stimulates the senses through tactile panels, textures and a game to improve memory, motor skills and encourages learning.
Activities to experience in the room include:
- Catherine Wheel Panel – colour and sound displays including firework effects
- Abstract Tactile Panels – raised and recessed fluid shapes in contrasting textures
- Colour Match Panel – classical music, mood lighting, and game to improve memory, colour recognition and motor skills
- Sound to Light Showtime – sounds converted into a dazzling light show of colour
- Waterless Rainbow Tube – colour wheel with both calming and stimulating effects
- Interactive Giant Causeway – step on each segment to activate colourful lights
- Activity Board – activities encouraging motor movement, coordination and sensory skills
- Infinity and Beyond Panel – visual and auditory effects using range of shapes, sounds, patterns and speeds
The sensory room can be booked in 45 minute sessions at a dedicated special assistance desk once through security. The special assistance desk and sensory room are part of a new space created specifically for passengers who require special assistance and has been designed as a premium lounge style area to ensure the utmost comfort for disabled passengers.
Gatwick Airport’s Head of Terminal Operations, Andy Pule, said:
“We recognise airports can be stressful environments for some passengers, which is why we are extremely proud to offer this new space for them to relax in and enjoy before their flight.
“Gatwick is committed to providing passengers who have a disability of any kind with the support and services required to ensure their time at the airport is as comfortable as possible and this remains a key area of focus for the airport.”
Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, Mark Lever, said:
“There are around 700,000 autistic people in the UK and they and their families want to access the same opportunities others often take for granted, and this includes holidays and travel. But many rely on routines to make sense of an often confusing world and can find the busy and unpredictable airport and flight environments distressing and disorientating.
“This is why we were delighted that London Gatwick, who achieved our prestigious Autism Friendly Award in 2016, have gone a step further and created a fantastic new sensory room for autistic travellers. A calming space like this can help autistic people to decompress and relax before departure, helping them to better manage their anxiety during the flight. Supportive spaces like these play an essential role in opening up the world for autistic people and their families.”