Alabama Airport Opens Its First Sensory Room for Passengers with Autism, Anxiety Disorders

Feb 17, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM) recently opened the airport’s first sensory room, a space designed for travelers with autism, sensory disorders and anxiety disorders. The inclusive space was launched as a partnership between the airport and Kulture City, a national non-profit organization based in Birmingham. The sensory room is now open and is available to any passenger who may need to use the space.

The rope is cut to open the BHM Airport Sensory Room (Image courtesy of BHM Airport)
The rope is cut to open the BHM Airport Sensory Room (Image courtesy of BHM Airport)

The sensory room was designed and developed between the local branch of the Birmingham-based non-profit and the airport to showcase Birmingham as an inclusive city that can accommodate the needs of all travelers. Kulture City works to ensure that all individuals with autism are accepted in their communities and can live up to their full potential.

Both the airport and Kulture City recognized that air travel can prove especially difficult to travelers with autism and anxiety disorders. In an official press release about the new sensory room, Dr. Julian Maha, founder of Kulture City, commended the airport’s role in launching the sensory room, noting that, “Birmingham Airport has taken a stand to create a travel experience for ALL individuals regardless of their unique abilities.”

“With the hustle and bustle of an airport, many senses are affected, especially kids on the spectrum,” a mother with a 5-year-old on the autism spectrum told The Points Guy. “Noise and crowds [are] a big factor so that’s where these sensory rooms come in. Anyone can come in to a quiet spot, without the bright lights and really calm all senses. It removes all the stimulation that an airport has on someone and helps let them reset, child or adult!”

Image courtesy of BHM Airport
Image courtesy of BHM Airport

Located in Birmingham Airport’s Concourse B, the airport’s new sensory room aims to do just that by removing stimulation and allowing travelers with autism or anxiety the opportunity to escape the challenges and stress of air travel. The space features bean bag chairs, a bubbling water wall, soft lighting, touchable activity panels and textural elements to alleviate anxiety. Although designed for travelers with autism or anxiety and sensory disorders, the room is accessible to all passengers.

“We know that air travel can often be a stressful and overwhelming experience for individuals with autism or other sensory sensitivities,” noted the airport authority’s interim president and CEO, Sylvester Lavender. “The opening of our Sensory Room is one of the ways we’re showing our commitment to all passengers by making time spent at BHM an easy, convenient, comfortable, and calming experience. We hope this new room will aid in breaking down the barriers that can prevent families from flying.”

And Birmingham’s not the only one getting in on the action. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL) airport opened a sensory room of its own in partnership with Delta in 2016 and Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) is also in the process of creating a similar space.

This story has been updated to reflect that the Atlanta airport had a similar program in place as of 2016. A prior version of the story had incorrectly reported Birmingham as being the first.

Featured image courtesy of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.