October 20, 2023

On Friday, October 13, Massport celebrated the opening of Logan International Airport’s newly renovated Terminal E, which includes the airport’s first sensory/calming room – a project with which The New England Center for Children (NECC) has been heavily involved.

“Over a year ago, Massport reached out with an idea to build an autism-friendly space in Terminal E of Logan Airport,” shared Jessica Sassi, PhD, BCBA-D, LABA, CEO of NECC. “We assembled a small group of individuals from NECC who then worked with Massport to ensure they constructed a space that best served children with autism and their families who would be traveling through the airport. We were both honored and elated to assist in this important endeavor.”

Dr. Sassi, along with Kristen Sidman, MEd, MS, OTR/L, director of OT/PT/APE, and Kay Abeling, MSEd, BCBA, LABA, SHRM-CP, executive assistant to the CEO, led consultation efforts to ensure the project was a success. NECC shared recommendations with Massport regarding materials, safety, durability, and the overall issues facing children and adults with autism and their caregivers during travel in order to create a dedicated space for individuals and families with autism and similar needs.

The new sensory/calming space, which is located in the new wing of Terminal E, includes a flight simulation room for pre-flight practice, comfortable/flexible seating, interactive features (such as lights, bubble tubes, and tech based games), and a number of charging ports for devices. This is the first autism-friendly space located at Logan Airport — and one of just a few of its kind in the U.S. — which hosts an estimated 7 million passengers annually. According to Massport, pending the popularity of this new area, sensory/calming areas may be added to other terminals at Logan.