As autism awareness continues to make strides in the media, more and more companies and businesses are advocating for hosting sensory-friendly events for autism. While these events vary in addressing sensory-related concerns, they all play a prominent role in providing those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with a safer, more comforting atmosphere. This way, neurodivergent individuals can enjoy the same activities neurotypical people do with a significantly lower risk of potential triggers or stimming.
ABA Centers of Florida understands how important sensory-friendly events for autism are in making the social lives of those with ASD more fulfilling. Sensory issues can be detrimental to individuals on the spectrum, affecting their ability to carry out normal routines and make valuable connections with others. To stress the importance of normalizing autism-related complications in familiar environments, here are some examples of sensory-friendly events for autism and why they benefit neurodivergent individuals.
How Do Sensory-Friendly Events for Autism Work?
The best way to understand how sensory-friendly events work is by understanding how sensory issues affect those with ASD. People with autism might regularly have sensitivity concerns among all five senses and experience problems with balance and awareness of body position, body cues, and movement. They can experience hypersensitivity (over-responsiveness) and hyposensitivity (under-responsiveness) to varying stimuli and often have both.
Those with ASD might become overwhelmed in situations where neurotypical people would be fine; this can lead to sensory avoidance – or trying to steer clear of stimuli that most people would regularly tune out. Whether it’s a sensitivity to fluorescent lights, crowded spaces, or areas with heavy background noise, neurodivergent individuals can feel physically and emotionally drained when subject to uncomfortable situations. Some specific behaviors displayed when experiencing a sensory issue include:
- Talking faster and louder, or not talking at all
- Increased stimming, such as repetitive noises, rocking, or hand flapping
- Increased movement, such as jumping or spinning
- Covering ears and eyes
- Troubles recognizing sensations like hunger, pain, or the need to use the bathroom
- Chewing on non-food items
- Escalating emotions that may lead to a meltdown
- Difficulty communicating that may lead to a shutdown
Sensory-friendly events for autism counter these concerns by providing more stable environments free from challenging triggers. They purposefully avoid visual and audible challenges and provide ways to calm individuals if they become overwhelmed. These events may feature designated quiet areas, sensory toys/activities, and other conscious methods for reducing stress levels. Below are some of ABA Centers of Florida’s favorite instances of companies and establishments in Florida creating a sensory-friendly atmosphere.
Florida-Based Sensory-Friendly Events for Autism
Orlando WonderWorks – This “edu-tainment” amusement park hosts an occasional sensory day in which the facility’s music lowers, all loud exhibits shut down, and other sensory-heavy features turn off for the entire day. Rates are also at a discount for this event, giving individuals with ASD and other developmental disorders a chance to enjoy their day to the fullest.
Miami Children’s Museum – On the second Saturday of every month, the Miami Children’s Museum hosts a sensory-friendly experience for neurodivergent kids. This day allows children to enjoy a sensory-modified and supportive setting with limited admission. They lower the lights and music and perform sensory-based activities and stage performances. These special days are free with a required RSVP.
Cox Science Center – For one hour on the first Saturday of each month, the Cox Science Center hosts special exploration hours designed for families affected by ASD, sensory processing, or cognitive challenges. The Center opens before the public and features softened lighting, decreased noise levels, and limited visual stimulation in interactive exhibits.
Chuck E. Cheese – Many locations in South Florida provide a sensory-friendly experience on the first Sunday of the month. Some features include less crowding, dimmed lighting, the show and music turned down or off entirely, game sound effects turned down, and no admission fees. There are also limited appearances by Charles Entertainment himself.
Sugar Sand Park – Sugar Sand hosts a sensory-friendly Saturday from 9-10 AM. Like others, this includes a modified setting with sound and lighting adjustments and minimal crowds for their exhibits and activities.
AMC Theatres – Each month, the large movie theater chain hosts an AMC sensory-friendly film program on the second and fourth Saturday for family audiences and Wednesday evenings for mature viewers. During these movie screenings, the lights turn up, the sound turns down, and viewers can freely get up, dance, walk, shout, or sing! Movie theaters are common for sensory overload, so these modifications allow for a simple, comforting, and enjoyable viewing experience for those in need.
ABA Centers of Florida Joins the Sensory-Friendly Initiatives
In honor of World Autism Month this April, ABA Centers of Florida has teamed up with AMC Theatres for a special sensory-friendly screening event. On April 22nd, we will host a premiere screening of The Super Mario Bros. Movie in Boca Raton! This exclusive event will be for our Boca clients and their families to enjoy, with all the amenities they need for a safe and worry-free viewing experience. If you would like to join the fun, don’t hesitate to contact ABA Centers of Florida for an evaluation.
This partnership with AMC is one of many initiatives we’ve taken to destigmatize autism spectrum disorder in the media. We hope this event makes more people aware that those with sensory-related issues can enjoy the same activities as their counterparts and that fun activities should never be out of the question for someone on the spectrum.
ABA Therapy Can Combat Sensory-Related Issues
ABA therapy is a phenomenal route to consider if you are a parent of a child or loved one who has showcased sensory-related issues. We emphasize early intervention for autism, as it gives any therapy a significantly better chance of success in the long term. This way, sensory-related issues can be identified and addressed with proper intervention techniques.
At ABA Centers of Florida, we offer ABA therapy for children and teens so they can live meaningful and fulfilling lives. Our programs feature amazing experiences such as our sensory-friendly visit to the theaters and many other exciting trips. Contact us today for more information about ABA therapy and how your child can benefit from our services.