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Travelling

Shannon Airport has opened the first airport sensory room in Europe for people with autism

It is tailored to be a “soothing place away from the activity of a busy airport”.

TheJournal.ie / YouTube

TRAVELLERS WHO HAVE autism will be able to avail of a European first in Shannon Airport as of this week.

The airport this week launched Europe’s first sensory room which is tailored for passengers who are living with autism. It was opened ahead of World Autism Day today.

Designed by Irish toy company 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 LEDs, 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 avail of official caps and wristbands at Shannon to ensure that they are immediately identified by staff and receive special treatment, including being now brought to the sensory room.

Europe’s first airport sensory room created at Shannon for passengers with autism Marty Morrissey along with Mitchell Slattery, aged 7 and front row, Rose Hynes, Shannon Group Chair, Cathal Commane, aged 5, Joe Stanford, aged 10, and Matthew Thomas, Chief Executive, Shannon Group. Diarmuid Greene / TrueMedia Diarmuid Greene / TrueMedia / TrueMedia

Gearoid Mannion of Ennis Voices for Autism (EVA) said the opening was “fantastic”.

“It’s a fantastic day for parents of children with autism and for families with all sorts of special needs.

“In our case, our children have autism. So coming to an airport with family who have children with special needs,it can be a very stressful and daunting time. Being able to come here away from all of that really means a lot to the families.

“Other airports across Europe need to do the same thing.”

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, reciprocate this service for passengers in a similar fashion on their return flight and look to provide similar facilities.

“I’m both delighted and proud that an Irish airport, Shannon Airport, is the first to introduce a sensory room in Europe.

“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.”

Information for passengers and families can be found here.

Read: ‘The big question was – how do we do this?’: Sesame Street welcomes new character who has autism

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