The first European airport sensory room developed for children and adults with neurodevelopmental challenges, including autism, has opened at Shannon Airport.
In the latest in a long list of aviation firsts on a global, European and national scale, the sensory room off the airport’s Departure Lounge will offer a relaxing environment for passengers ahead of their flight.
Designed by Adam & Friends, it is tailored to be a soothing place away from the activity of a busy airport and comprises facilities such as aquatic bubble tube, an undulated wavy wall, colour changing LED’s, wheel projector and other items.
The investment in the sensory room follows another international airport landmark initiative at Shannon last year when it introduced a customer care programme for people with autism and special needs. Customers who need additional support can now avail of official caps and wristbands at Shannon to ensure that they are immediately identified by staff and receive the special treatment they deserve, including being now brought to the sensory room.
At the official opening of the Shannon Airport sensory room, Niall Maloney, Director of Operations at Shannon Airport, urged other Irish and international airports to get on board to standardise this service at all European airports: “I’m both delighted and proud that an Irish airport, Shannon Airport, is the first to introduce a sensory room in Europe. It’s in keeping with Shannon’s special reputation for looking after its passengers. I would dearly love it if other airports around Ireland and the world participated in this.”
Said Rose Hynes, Chairman Shannon Group: “We know that, for some of our families and individual passengers, air travel and moving through an airport environment –whether it’s dealing with check in, security or boarding – 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. It is this strong sense of commitment and community which inspired our staff to develop and launch the airport’s Autism and Special Needs Awareness Programme last year – and it is that same sense of commitment to community that motivated them to develop Europe’s first airport sensory room.
Details on the Airport’s assistance programme for passengers with autism and special needs are available at http://www.shannonairport.ie/gns/passengers/prepare/autismandspecialneeds.aspx