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Pittsburgh International Airport Promotes Autism Understanding with Presley’s Place

by Kimberly Krol Inlander

May 6, 2022

© Beth Hollerich

News

Pittsburgh International Airport opened Presley’s Place, a sensory room with amenities focused on travelers with sensory sensitivities, in 2019, setting a new global standard for rooms of this type and offering a respite for some family travelers. Tucked away in Concourse A, past Gate A9, Presley’s Place offers just the space certain travelers need during the sometimes stressful and overwhelming airport experience.

 

“Presley’s Place is exactly what it’s for: to help people who may be more sensitive to sensory stimulation to help them come here and decompress before they can get on an airplane,” said Samantha Stedford, director of customer experience, PIT. “Also, to familiarize themselves with getting on an airplane before they actually have to experience it.”

 

 

© Julie Bercik

 

According to the CDC, about 1 in 44 children have been identified as on the autism spectrum, with more than 5 million adults living with autism. Presley’s Place was the result of a note in the company suggestion box, left by Jason Rudge, whose son Presley has autism. CEO Christina Cassotis read the note and called Rudge, one of the airport’s heavy equipment operators, into her office, where she decided on the spot to build the 1,500-square-foot space. Nearly 2,000 guests have passed through Presley’s Place’s door — a number which would likely be higher without the COVID-19 pandemic and a number that is now picking up. Additionally, the space is now a blueprint for similar spaces, especially in transportation hubs, around the world.

 

 

“We are getting so many requests to tour Presley’s Place since people have been coming back to travel,” said Stedford. “We will take them through ticketing, security, all of the way over to Presley’s Place and their gate to show them what the entire experience is like before they actually take that flight for the first time.”

 

 

Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, families can choose to visit the room when transiting through PIT or can request a tour by emailing info@flypittsburgh.com.

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