For children on the autism spectrum, trips to the airport can be overwhelming.
According to Autism Speak, “sensory issues often accompany autism.” Many individuals diagnosed with autism have challenges processing everyday sensory information. As a result, they may be either over-sensitive or under-sensitive, or both, to a wide range of stimuli, including lights, sounds, smells, tastes, touch, at different times.
For this reason, the noise level, lights, crowd of passengers, long waits in the security line, and announcements can be too much for kids with autism to handle. These uncomfortable experiences may trigger sensory overload—and a meltdown.
Fortunately, more and more airports are going the extra mile to help young travelers with autism acclimate to the airport environment.
To mark Autism Awareness Month, Miami International Airport (MIA) has launched a brand-new Multi-Sensory Room for young passengers on the autism spectrum, situated at the further side of Concourse D TSA security checkpoint #4, CBS Miami reported.
— Miami Int’l Airport (@iflymia) April 15, 2017
In an effort to minimize sensory overload in children with autism, the specially designed, dimly lit room features calming sensory fixtures, including an aquatic bubble tub, wall puzzles, cushioned seats, and a light projector.
The soothing, peaceful environment gives kids with autism and other related conditions a place to relax amidst the hectic air travel.
This Multi-Sensory Room was set up through a collaboration between MIA and the Miami Beat Team from Leadership Miami’s Class of 2018, with advice from the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD).
The room, which will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, is part of MIA’s MIAair program, which “allows passengers with different disabilities the opportunity to practice the travel experience in a safe and controlled environment,” the airport’s website states.
“The program helps prepare travelers for future flights.”
We take travel for granted, yet it can be stressful for those with autism. #MIAair’s here to help. Learn more, http://ow.ly/Gv9C30arSyP #AutismAwarenessMonth
Beyond a doubt, the opening of MIA’s Multi-Sensory Room was exciting news for families of children with autism.
“This is super awesome and thoughtful! Thank you Miami International Airport – MIA for going the extra mile!” Heart of Autism: Miles For Mazy posted on its Facebook page.
The grand opening ceremony of the airport’s Multi-Sensory Room was held on the morning of April 19 by officials from Miami International Airport and the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD).
MIA is the third airport in the United States that has a multi-sensory room for children suffering from cognitive or developmental disabilities, as stated on Miami Beat—Leadership Miami’s Facebook page.
Back in April 2016, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport also debuted a multi-sensory room equipped with features such as a tactile activity panel, a mini ball pit, and a bubbling water sculpture on Concourse F. The room aimed to provide a “soothing, supportive environment” for young travelers on the autism spectrum, reported The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC).
Watch the video: