This Airport Is Making It Easier for People With Autism to Travel

Parents really can change the world. Take, for example, Jason Rudge, an autism dad who tried to find a way to make traveling less stressful for his four-year-old son, Presley, who has level three autism. With the help of the Pittsburg International Airport, kids and adults on the spectrum can now find a safe place in an otherwise loud and busy airport to avoid overstimulation.

Rudge is a heavy equipment operator at the Pittsburg International Airport so he has a unique view on how airports work. He petitioned the airport to create a sensory room that could remove the overstimulating noises and business of airports in order to help kids and adults feel safer. The result is a really cool space called Presley’s Room, named for his son.

“Parents who have a kid with autism are afraid of how others will react if their kid starts acting out or has a meltdown, especially since many people don’t understand autism,” Rudge told Conde Nast Traveler. “Going shopping or out to eat can be overwhelming, and planning a trip with air travel involved can be especially daunting.”

While airports around the world are beginning to create quiet spaces for similar reasons, the sensory room at PIA stands out because it includes a simulated space that looks just like the inside of an airplane.

With a small space, realistic plane seats, and full detailed wall prints of the interior cabin spaces of an airplane, kids, and adults can sit in a seat and see exactly what they can expect once they board their plane. It’s a genius idea to help those on the spectrum deal with the oftentimes loud and confusing surrounding of an airport.

This is a fantastic step forward in the right direction of inclusion from airports all around the country. When we make public spaces safe for everyone, especially our most vulnerable citizens, we create a world that is happier, healthier, and more empathetic.

To learn more about how to create your own safe space for a child or adult on the spectrum, check out these great tips from Autism Parenting Magazine.

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