Ryan Cunningham at the launch of the Shannon Aiport Sensory Room in 2017 Picture: Diarmuid Greene
WELCOMING the news that Gatwick Airport has set-up a ‘sensory room’, Shannon Airport has called on other European airports to follow suit.
Shannon opened Europe’s first sensory room in March of last year for children and adults with neurodevelopmental challenges including autism.
The room has prompted many visits from major airports, including Gatwick, who are interested in following Shannon’s lead, according to Shannon Group plc chief-executive Matthew Thomas.
“We know from opening our own airport sensory room in March 2017 that the Gatwick sensory room will be a tremendous assistance to passengers with autism and special needs,” Mr Thomas said.
“We already have well-established Ryanair services between Shannon and Gatwick airports, and the new Gatwick sensory room means that a trip between the two airports will be even more user-friendly,” he added.
“With the sensory rooms in operation at either end of the journey to and from the UK, we are making it easier for passengers who need these facilities.
“Having them can mean a huge difference for passengers with neurodevelopmental challenges.”
Designed by Adam and Friends, the Shannon Airport sensory room is tailored to be a soothing place, away from the activity of a busy airport.
The room includes facilities like an aquatic bubble tube, an undulated wavy wall, colour changing LEDs, wheel projector and other items.
“We realised that it was one thing for Shannon to put these provisions in place but if other airports participated in this programme, then it would mean that when the passenger arrives on the other side, they also get special treatment,” Shannon Airport managing director Andrew Murphy said.
“That would be a huge gift to people with special needs and their families,” he added.
“The response this drew from the aviation community was astounding,” Mr Murphy added.
“Since establishing our sensory room, we have received more than 30 enquiries from airports, Government agencies and sporting venues around the world, including Gatwick Airport, looking for advice and guidelines on how best to establish an airport sensory room.”
“We were delighted to assist Gatwick and we wish them every success. Our offer to assist other airports who might be thinking of following suit still stands.”
Shannon Airport also operates an assistance programme for those with special needs.
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