In a European first, Shannon Airport in Ireland has launched a sensory room for children and families with autism and special needs. The room's facilities include an aquatic bubble tube, a wavy wall, colour-changing LEDs, a wheel projector, and more.
The room is designed to create a relaxing environment for children and adults before their flight.
Managing director of Shannon Airport Andrew Murphy said they were "delighted" to launch the sensory room. "The parents have said it is a tangible benefit to them on their travels with their children," he said in the launch video.
The room will be a soothing place for many away from the activity of a busy airport. Shannon Airport hopes it will help families with neuro-developmental challenges, including autism, to have a more relaxing time before they travel.
Gearoid Mannion, spokesperson for Ennis Voices for Autism, said the launch was a "fantastic day for parents of children with autism and for families with all sorts of special needs.
"Coming to an airport can be stressful and daunting, so being able to come here away from that means a lot to the families using the facility," he said.
The video, shared on Shannon Airport's Facebook page on 30 March, has been viewed more than 12,000 times, and has had an overwhelmingly positive reaction from families.
"For my family starting a holiday, this would really make our trip a whole lot easier," one mother wrote. "I hope more airports take this into consideration as it can be so stressful and embarrassing when travelling with a child who is losing his nut because of delays or noises that he's not used to. Thank you for raising awareness to this, tolerance and not judging is key here."
Another commenter said, "Shannon Airport on the ball. I have to say the staff are just wonderful in the airport with anyone with special needs. Great to see the awareness of having a sensory room."