3 Years Later, Presley’s Place Continues to Change Lives

Sensory room set new standard for airports while giving passengers safe, welcoming space

By Matt Neistei

Published July 22, 2022

Read Time: 3 mins


Since opening on July 24, 2019, Presley’s Place has helped thousands of guests moving through Pittsburgh International Airport cope with the stress created by travel and unfamiliar people and places.

Inspired by the son of PIT heavy equipment driver Jason Rudge, the world-class sensory room also set a new standard in the travel industry for inclusivity and support of individuals and families affected by sensory sensitivities and other neuro-diverse challenges.

We are proud of what our team accomplished together with the help of so many people in our community, and we continue to encourage other airports and public facilities of all kinds to add similar spaces that offer safe, welcoming environments for those who need them.

From its grand opening—when Presley himself gave it his stamp of approval—until now, three years later, the heartwarming responses from so many people about what this space has meant for them and their loved ones are simply overwhelming. We want to share a few examples of those reactions, beginning with this message we received just last month:

“I am a regular business traveler and recently visited Pittsburgh for the first time to attend a conference. Though I travel regularly I find it exhausting and stressful. Diagnosed ADHD, SPD with autistic tendencies at the age of 43 after a near breakdown, I have learned that I don’t have an off button or filter for sensory stimulus which leaves me easily overwhelmed. So travel, and especially airports, take a huge amount out of me.

“When I saw Presley’s Place advertised I was curious. When I went and settled into one of the rooms, I was moved to tears. I could feel tension, anxiety, stress, confusion all just immediately lift. I have never been anywhere specifically designed with my neurotype in mind and the feeling of comfort and belonging and just being seen and cared for was overwhelming in a good way. I just can’t thank you enough.

“It was wonderful to be able to relax and regulate my nervous system for a few minutes. But so much more than that it felt incredible to know that people cared enough to actually think about what I need. … Since my diagnosis I have been trying to learn to trust myself to know what I need but without positive examples like Presley’s Place it is so hard to do. But now I know what a place designed for me is like. 20 minutes in that room will change my life for the better forever.”

“We had the opportunity to utilize the sensory room at the Pittsburgh airport as we traveled with our adult daughter who has severe autism. I cannot applaud you enough for implementing this fantastic space. It was calming, soothing and relaxing for our daughter, which led to a seamless boarding process and uneventful flight.

“This quiet refuge was key to putting her in the right mood for travel, which is typically stressful for her and subsequently for our entire family. Thank you for your attention to inclusivity and for making travel a lot easier for families impacted by autism.” – Stephanie Gonzalez

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