The world’s busiest airport will get a little bit calmer for some travellers with the addition of calming room for customers on the autism spectrum.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, along with Delta Airlines and autism advocacy group The Arc, launched a multi-sensory room at the airport on 12 April, in honour of Autism Awareness Month. The room is designed to provide a calming and supportive environment. The room is located in a quiet area and contains a “mini ball pit, a bubbling water sculpture, a tactile activity panel and other items children can interact with to help calm and prepare them for their travel experience”, according to a Delta statement.
The Arc hosted a tour of the new room when it opened, where Delta pilots and flight attendants assisted families in boarding a Boeing 777 to help get them familiar with air travel and alleviate any worries about the process of boarding a plane. First Officer Erich Riese, who has a nine-year-old son on the autism spectrum, shared his tips for travelling, which include reminding children of their upcoming trip regularly, booking a window seat near the front of the plane, packing a carry-on of comforts from home and boarding the flight last. “When my son was born, I couldn’t wait for him to be old enough to travel with me,” Reise said. “When doctors diagnosed him with autism, we looked at his diagnosis as a positive. Instead of traveling less, we travelled more…the key is to simplify, simplify, simplify.”