[WATCH] Malta announces its first autism-friendly restaurant

Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli gave McDonald’s the autism-friendly accreditation (Photo: Minister Portelli on Facebook)

McDonald’s at Malta International Airport has opened a quiet room, trained employees to become Autism Ambassadors, and established autism-friendly days

On 1 May, the Maltese government announced that McDonald’s at Malta International Airport (MIA) has officially become the country’s first autism-friendly restaurant. To earn this accreditation, the restaurant unveiled a special room designed to accommodate children and people with autism and other sensory issues.

Taking special needs into account

Designed in collaboration with Prisms Malta and the Autism Parents Association (APA), the room has low noise levels and dimmer lighting. In addition to this, the ‘quiet space’ is equipped with sensory toys and noise-cancelling headphones. 

Going beyond the décor of the room, McDonald’s Malta has taken several other exemplary steps such as training its employees to become “Autism Ambassadors” who can provide anyone in need with assistance.

McDonald’s quiet room
(Photo: Jeremy Wonnacott/Dept. of Information OPM)

What is more, the Managing Director of Premier Restaurants Malta Ltd., Peter Hili, further revealed that the restaurant will also have autism-friendly days and hours. More specifically, the entire establishment will have dim lighting and low noise levels every Monday and Thursday between 15:00 and 16:30 hrs.

The Minister for Inclusion, Volunteering and Consumer Rights Julia Farrugia Portelli praised the efforts of the restaurant, urging others to follow its example and become more inclusive:

“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.”

Other autism-friendly spaces

Although the McDonald’s Malta branch is the first autism-friendly restaurant in the country, nine other establishments have received the same accreditation. These establishments are:

  • Explora
  • Darmanin Gallery
  • Malta International Airport
  • Malta National Aquarium
  • The National Museum of Archaeology
  • The National Museum of Natural History
  • ŻiguŻajg Festival
  • Eden Cinemas
  • MZ Hairdressing & Education