Pittsburgh International Airport Launches Sensory-Friendly Suite

Its new sensory-friendly room is the brainchild of an airport employee whose 4-year-old son has autism.
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By Stephanie Grassullo, Associate Editor
Published July 25, 2019

Traveling with kids is an adventure in and of itself. And when you have a family member with autism or who has sensory issues, it can be a downright nightmare. Pittsburgh International Airport is making moves to help ease the burden. The airport just launched a sensory-friendly suite, which offers families a calming place to de-escalate before boarding flights.

In order to pull it off, the company tapped into advocacy groups, individuals and parents of kids with neurodevelopmental challenges to share feedback on their experiences and offer input to help make the room’s design complete. Here are a couple of the room’s main highlights:

  • Realistic airplane cabin experience
  • Private, soundproof spaces
  • Adjustable lighting
  • Transitional space between the concourse and room with real-time flight information and interactive terminal map
  • Sensory-friendly restroom with adult changing station and adjustable sink
  • Calming activities

The new space touts itself as the “most comprehensive sensory-friendly airport suite in the world,” and officially opened its doors this week at the Airside Terminal near Gate A9. The room is the brainchild of Jason Rudge, an airport heavy equipment operator, whose 4-year-old son Presley has autism. The room was named “Presley’s Place” in honor of the adorable boy. “I’ve never done anything that has impacted so many people,” his dad says.

See the space for yourself in the video below.

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