McDonald’s becomes Malta’s first Autism Friendly Restaurant

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McDonald’s becomes the first restaurant in Malta to be accredited with the Autism Friendly Label with its new Quiet Space @ McDonald’s, a room at its Malta International Airport restaurant designed to meet the sensory needs of people on the Spectrum.

The room’s design is a collaboration with Prisms Malta and the Autism Parents Association, and the support of the Ronald McDonald House Charities. It features décor, light, noise levels and an environment specifically intended to help people with sensory difficulties enjoy the McDonald’s experience with utmost ease and is equipped with noise cancelling headphones and sensory toys.

The restaurant will also operate Autism Friendly hours every Monday and Thursday between 15:00 and 16:30, during which the restaurant will have dimmer lights and lower noise levels.

“When we heard about the Autism Friendly Label we immediately felt there was going to be a really interesting opportunity not only for our busiest restaurant to serve its communities in a more accessible way, but also in terms of the learning opportunity for the team and the wider community. This project has raised the team’s awareness of the needs of people on the Spectrum and we are delighted to be able to accommodate those needs. This is our way of helping to foster a society that is inclusive, understanding, and kind,” said Peter Hili, Managing Director of Premier Restaurants Malta, the operator of McDonald’s on the islands.

Attending the launch event, Hon Julia Farrugia, Minister for Inclusion, Voluntary Organisations and Consumer Rights expressed her satisfaction and defined this initiative as exemplary and worth emulating. “We commend the restaurant for taking such an active role in our community because it is also in line with the government’s ongoing efforts to ensure that the disability sector remains firmly grounded in the values of inclusiveness and equality,” said Minister Portelli.

The Minister also commended McDonald’s for its heightened participation in the community especially in the light of its recently announced Volunteering Programme which will see approximately 170 full-time staff committing over 3,500 hours to volunteering for Din l-Art Ħelwa, the Soup Kitchen and the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Apart from making its MIA restaurant more accessible, McDonald’s has also provided staff with specific training in the understanding of autism, how a person with sensory difficulties experiences surroundings and the complexity behind such conditions and associated behaviours.

Following this training, McDonald’s staff are now certified as Autism Ambassadors. They will be wearing badges and be at customers’ disposal for assistance and information.

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