05/04/2017 11:30 BST

Shannon Airport Launches Europe's First Sensory Room For Families With Autism And Special Needs

'We now need other airports in Europe to do the same thing.'

An Irish airport has launched Europe’s first ever sensory room for children and families with autism and special needs.

The colourful room has facilities including as aquatic bubble tube, a wavy wall, colour-changing LEDs, a wheel projector and more.

It hopes to offer a relaxing environment for adults and children ahead of their flight.

Andrew Murphy, managing director at Shannon Airport, said they were “delighted” to launch the sensory room. 

“The parents have said it is a tangible benefit to them on their travels with their children,” he said on the launch video.   

Designed by Adam & Friends, the room is tailored to be a soothing place away from the activity of a busy airport.

It hopes to appeal to families with neuro-developmental challenges, including autism, to have a more relaxing time before they board their flight.

Gearoid Mannion, spokesperson for action group Ennis Voices for Autism (EVE), said it was a “fantastic” space for parents for children with special needs or autism.

“Coming to an airport can be stressful and daunting, so being able to come here away from that means a lot to the families using the facility,” he said.

“We now need other airports in Europe to do the same thing.”

The launch video, shared on the airport’s Facebook page on 30 March, has been viewed more than 10,000 times. It had a positive reaction from families.

“For my family starting a holiday, this would really make our trip a whole lot easier,” one mum wrote. “I hope more airports take this into consideration as it can be so stressful and embarrassing when travelling with a child who is losing his nut because of delays or noises that he’s not used to.

“Thank you for raising awareness to this, tolerance and not judging is key here.”

Another person wrote: “Shannon airport on the ball. I have to say the staff are just wonderful in the airport with anyone with special needs.

“Great to see the awareness of having a sensory room.”

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