Shannon airport opens sensory room for passengers with autism
Facility is first of its type in a European airport designated for people with special needs
Ryan Cunningham (4) from Gaelscoil Donncha Rua, Shannon tries out Shannon Airport’s new sensory room. Photograph: Diarmuid Greene/True Media
Shannon Airport has become the first airport in Europe to open a sensory room for passengers with autism or special needs.
The new facility, off the airport’s departure lounge, offers a relaxing environment for adults and children ahead of their flight.
The investment follows the introduction last year of a customer care programme for people with autism and special needs.
Designed by education and therapy company Adam & Friends, the room has been tailored to provide a soothing place away from the activity of a busy airport.
Customers who wish to use the room can avail of official caps and wristbands to ensure that they are immediately identified by staff and receive special attention. Child-friendly items installed include an aquatic bubble tube, an undulated wavy wall, colour changing LED’s and a wheel projector.
The opening comes ahead of World Autism Day on April 2nd.
Shannon Airport’s director of operations Niall Maloney urged other Irish and international airports make such a service a standard.
“It’s one thing for Shannon to put these provisions in place but if all other airports participated in this programme, so that when the passenger arrives on the other side they also get special treatment, then that would be a huge gift to people with special needs and their families,” he said.
Shannon Group chairwoman Rose Hynes said for some families air travel “can be a daunting experience”.
“Our staff recognised that autism has a profound effect on those with the condition and their families and our job in Shannon is to deliver on our promise that Shannon really is easier to use than other airports.”