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Atlanta Airport Unveils New Space For Travelers With Autism

A new multisensory room at Atlanta's airport contains a ball pit and other activities to help kids with disabilities prepare for their flights.
A new multisensory room at Atlanta's airport contains a ball pit and other activities to help kids with disabilities prepare for their flights.
Credit Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Delta Air Lines

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Children with autism could now have an easier time traveling by plane from Atlanta.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport joined forces with Delta Air Lines and autism advocacy group The Arc to create a multi-sensory room for passengers with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The room opened this month, in honor of Autism Awareness Month.

The space is small, but Stacey Ramirez, state director of The Arc Georgia, says that’s intentional.

“Upon entrance you may assume, ‘Oh my gosh, this is too small,’” Ramirez says. “But, for those of us who know and love someone with autism, we know that large spaces are not always the best.”

The room is painted a soft blue color. which is supposed to be calming, she says. It’s stocked with items that are designed to meet the sensory needs of many people with autism.

“One is a mini ball pit, where one young man came in and sank to the bottom,” Ramirez says. “Another is a mini water sculpture. Another young lady who was having difficulty waiting, grabbed onto this water sculpture and just relaxed.”

The idea is to help kids adjust to the travel environment before taking off.

“[The room] provides a calming effect for travelers on the autism spectrum before getting on an airplane,” said Letty Ashworth, Delta’s Director of Global Diversity. “It will help them better acclimate to the air travel experience.”