Pittsburgh International Airport has opened a series of sensory rooms for those with autism and other sensory challenges.
The 1,500-square-foot, sound-proof space features comfortable seating, dark cubbies where kids can relax, bubble tubes with delicate lighting, and bathrooms with adult-sized changing tables.
The new space also includes a room that looks like an airplane, complete with a boarding area, seats, trays, windows and overhead compartments. Kids and adults can use this space to get comfortable with boarding and sitting on an airplane.
The sensory room was inspired by 4-year-old Presley Rudge, whose father, Jason Rudge, is an employee at Pittsburgh International Airport. Jason noticed his son, who is on the autism spectrum, greatly benefited from sensory rooms. He decided to pitch the idea of one at the airport where he works.
“I sat down and did my research, then wrote a letter to the airport CEO with my idea,” Jason said in an interview with TODAY. “Two weeks later, she called me into her office and said, ‘This is going to happen,'” according to the interview.
Pittsburgh International Airport is one of the first U.S. airports to offer a sensory room. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta opened a similar space in 2016.