Airport Quiet Rooms

Atlanta often boasts itself as being home to Hartsfield-Jackson International airport, the busiest airport in the world. While it certainly may be great for the local economy, it can make traveling for any Atlanta native a dreadful experience. The crowds, noise, lines, uncertainty and stress makes for a somewhat chaotic and intense environment. For parents, the challenge of traveling with a child can exacerbate all these problems. Traveling with a child with a developmental disability has unique challenges all it’s own. When traveling, a typically-developing adult understands the reason they are at the airport, the goal they have in mind. Whether it’s business, family or pleasure, we know why we are there. Even young, typically developing children can understand this goal, even if it’s not always enough to get them through without incident. But many children with

When traveling, a typically-developing adult understands the reason they are at the airport, the goal they have in mind. Whether it’s business, family or pleasure, we know why we are there. Even young, typically developing children can understand this goal, even if it’s not always enough to get them through without incident. But many children with developmental disability may struggle to understand why they are being subjected to such noise and chaos. Even if they do understand their reason for being there, the noise and crowds may simply be overwhelming. They may be unable to process and ignore these elements, something that many of us do automatically. Luckily, many airports around the world are beginning to recognize that

Luckily, many airports around the world are beginning to recognize that traveling can be especially difficult for these children (and their families) and have started to accommodate the diverse array of travelers. Many airports are creating ‘quiet rooms’ to help ease the burdens of traveling. These rooms are designed, as the name suggests, to be quiet and relaxing; an oasis of peace in the otherwise chaotic energy of the airport. One such room in Shannon Airport in Ireland opened as part of a larger effort to train staff specifically to help travelers who have autism spectrum. Last year, Hartsfield-Jackson and Delta

Last year, Hartsfield-Jackson and Delta airlines created a multi-sensory room for children with autism spectrum. This was also part of a larger effort to train staff on the specific needs and challenges of travellers with autism spectrum. Such large-scale and visible actions by major companies is encouraging as it reflects a cultural shift towards accepting the great neuro-diversity in our community. Ultimately, these are simple changes – turning one room into an autism-friendly area, teaching staff about autism spectrum – that can go a long way toward making traveling easier on a diverse range of individuals and families.