Fly Shannon… It’s easier 

Shannon airport officially launched Europe’s first Airport sensory room. Dylan and myself were fortunate enough to use this sensory room when we were in shannon Airport in December. The Airport can be an intimidating environment. For a child with special needs travelling through an Airport can trigger a sensory overload. The loud noises, the crowds, the security checks while adding an unfamiliar environment into the mix is a cocktail for disaster. It can cause anxiety and stress to a child with special needs, which in return can lead to a upsetting meltdown.

Traveling with Dylan has always been a concern of mine. I would feel nervous as to how Dylan would react in a busy airport. Would he have an upsetting melt down? Will he board the flight? Would it be an enjoyable experience for him? Was this a risk I was willing to take? Travelling and going on family holidays together should be a fun experience filled with positive memories. Being in the city center can become too much of a sensory overload for him, I dread to think of him trying to process his environment in an unfamiliar surroundings like an Airport.

Shannon Airport’s awareness programme.

Shannon Airport have introduced an awareness programme for people with special needs to help them understand the process of getting through the Airport as quickly and as smoothly as possible by introducing baseball caps and  wristbands. These will enable  Airport staff to identify these people and their family members or carers and help them on their way. Shannon

Airport also invite families travelling with children that have special needs to arrange a visit prior to their flight, to have a walk through the airport. This is a fantastic solution for preparing a child for the Airport environment. If you wish to avail of this please email dam@shannonairport.ie


Europe’s first Airport Sensory room

To further enhance their journey a sensory room has been created in the departure lounge. I was shocked to hear that this is the first Airport sensory room in Europe. This alone shows Europe has still a long way to come to not only understanding Autism but also accepting it. To say my local Airport, Shannon Airport is the first in Europe to be equipped with a sensory room gives me a great appreciation. We should be beyond proud to have such an amazing and forward thinking facility in our region. I hope to see more airports follow in Shannon Airports autism friendly footsteps. 


Shannon Airport officially launched their Sensory Room with the help of RTE personality A Clare man himself, Marty Morrissey, which I had the pleasure of meeting. It is fantastic to see a reputable man like Marty Morrissey help shine a light on Autism awareness and acceptance, and to also celebrate this joyous occasion. I was also delighted to have met the designers of the Sensory room from Adam and Friends There sheer love for this project shines through and through. Gemma expressed her happiness seeing their ideas come to life.

 

The sensory room has a fairy tale feel between dreamy clouds and a sensory sun the gently transforms into different colours. A light reflector moon shines ever so magically against  the vibrant coloured walls. Closing the soundproof door behind you, it is easy to lose yourself amongst this enchanted little autism friendly village.  The room is filled with gigantic bean bags, sensory water tanks filled with lights and fish, A little house with a grass roof top, an electric massaging bed for deep compression, of course shaped like a boat, whilst being surrounded with padding on the walls. The attention to detail is unwavering throughout the entire sensory room. This area allows the child a moment in time to STOP! It allows them to regulate their system, calm any anxiety and to just simple relax. ( For the parents too…) It is area away from judgmental stares and whispers. It is a reassuring, freeing and revitalising area. Not only giving the child a sensory moment in time, it allows the parent or career time to energize, to finish this part of the journey before boarding a plane.

I was beyond thrilled to have been invited to celebrate this jubilant time with Shannon Airport and their wonderful team. The atmoshere was so positive and optimistic. I now look forward to Dylan and myself walking through Shannon Airports doors this summer for our first family holiday together.



For more information about Shannon Airport’s assistance programme and identification assistance system call +353 (0)61 712000 or email Passenger Assistance at askpa@shannonairport.ie


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