As a parent of a child with autism, you understand that they process the world differently than others.
This is mainly due to the effect autism has on an individual’s ability to process sensory experiences. While conversation about autism largely focuses on the behaviors associated with the disorder, there is a lack of understanding regarding how people with autism experience daily activities. Parents should be familiar with typical sensory experiences that may be overwhelming for their child, such as loud events, bright venues or crowded spaces. By viewing fun activities through the eyes of your child, you’ll gain an understanding of what type of activities are best suited for them. Learning how to make experiences for your child with autism more manageable will allow them to enjoy themselves to the fullest without feeling overwhelmed.
What is Sensory Knowledge?
Think of sensory knowledge as the basic ways in which you process the physical world. How you touch, see, hear, smell, and taste things on a daily basis adds information to this ever-growing body of knowledge. While most of us are able to process incoming stimuli with relative ease and comfort, individuals with autism will experience the same stimuli in a completely different way. Their sensory knowledge is much more fragile and susceptible to heightened sensitivity of certain activities. As a parent, it can be easy to feel like the activities done with your son or daughter in the home will help avoid any potential incidents out in public. However, sensory-friendly events are quite prevalent in most cities across the country, taking into consideration the ideal environment for children on the spectrum. It’s important that you, the parent, are familiar with how certain stimuli will be processed by your child and what events are ideal for their needs.
Sensory Friendly Activities
The importance of viewing autism as an intrinsic part of your child as opposed to something that needs fixing is critical to ensuring their complete and total well-being. While autism affects the ways in which your child will process and interact with the world, it doesn’t mean they can’t live a rewarding, fun-filled life. Many places have begun to accept this train of thought and are hosting sensory-friendly events for special needs children to enjoy activities that we all know and love. There is no shortage of activities that your child can enjoy without the risk of being over-stimulated. All you need to do is know your child’s interests and take them to events that they’ll be sure to love.
- Major League Baseball games often offer sensory-friendly seating for children and parents in need. Accommodating your child’s needs by lowering speaker volumes and providing quiet areas, these MLB games provide them with an experience that is considerate of their sensitivity to certain stimuli. Major League Baseball has pledged that teams will host Autism Awareness games at least once per season. These games are great for your child as they can be examples teaching that who they are and how they operate should be championed, not belittled.
- While most movie theater experiences are often too loud or dark for individuals diagnosed with autism, RegalTheaters offers monthly movie screenings that are shown in a more sensory-friendly environment. With the volume lowered to a less stimulating level and the house lights kept on, your child can enjoy the magic of the movies without feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
- Museums have also taken the initiative to make exhibits more sensory-friendly to accommodate children with autism. As a parent, you know exactly what piques the interests of your child. Whether they are avid artists or aspiring astronauts, museums can expose your child to exhibits that will blow them away. By dimming the lights in certain exhibitions and lowering the volume of sounds throughout the museum, your child can experience their favorite exhibits in a sensory-friendly environment.
- We all remember the joy of going to the zoo and spotting our favorite animals. Though zoos are typically crowded, busy places that can trigger negative responses in your child, many zoos offer programs that allow special needs children to visit the park before it opens to the general public. A less-populated park along with lowered speaker volumes will provide your child with the same joy that we’ve all felt when visiting the zoo.