Airport Recreates Departure Experience for Autistic Passenger

Geo Beats
  • About
  • Export
  • Add to
Each time Aaran Stewart, a young man with severe autism, flies, the staff at Heathrow Airport makes his current experience exactly like his last one.

To attend Boston Higashi School, Aaran Stewart has flown four times a year for the past five years from London’s Heathrow Airport.

While that doesn’t sound too difficult, for Aaran it can be completely debilitating as he has both severe autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The staff at the airport know well that the slightest change in routine can send the 21 year old man into a state of extreme panic.

So, each time Aaran flies they make his current trip as much like his previous ones as possible.

That includes repeating gate assignments, airport and airline workers, store visits, and seat reservations.

They even make sure the same plane makes the trans-Atlantic trip every time.

Aaran’s mother, Amanda Stewart, said that without Heathrow’s accommodation there is no way her son would be able to make the trip.

She recalled a time when the bus that typically takes them to the plane wasn’t able to display the flight number on its screen due to a technical glitch.

The driver quickly swapped out the bus for one that could.

Said the head of passenger support services for the airport, "We take accessibility at Heathrow very seriously.”