What is the Meaning of Sensory Friendly?
Christel Seeberger of Sensory Friendly Solutions describes what it means to be sensory-friendly while providing examples of sensory-friendly locations and sensory-friendly keywords.
The Dub-C Autism program provides supports to degree-seeking West Chester University students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The mission of D-CAP is to build an inclusive and accepting campus community to better support the experience and success of our degree-seeking students with ASD through indirect and direct supports. The program website has a Resource Page with books, websites, videos, a list of on-campus resources and contact information. Contact Cherie Fishbaugh, Director of Autism Services at WCU, at CFishbaugh@wcupa.edu with any questions.
WCU’s brand new Self-Care Space is located on the sixth floor of the FHG Library. The room is equipped with stimulating resources for meditation, relaxation or sensory regulation. Some of the resources include noise-reducing sound panels, light and noise machines, yoga mats, weighted blankets, noise-cancelling headphones and comfortable seating. For more information, visit the FHG Library Self-Care Space webpage.
The Self-Care Space is sponsored by funding awarded by the WCU Innovation in Diversity & Inclusion Grants Council.
The “Relaxin’ Rammy Corner” room is another designated space in the FHG Library filled with over 20 sensory furniture pieces. Located on the quiet first floor, this space is well suited for individuals on the autism spectrum but is available to any WCU student. The room has a hammock swing, lounger hammock chairs, gel floor tiles, fidget toys, noise-canceling headphones and more. To learn more, visit this article discussing the FHG Library’s Relaxin’ Rammy Corner or view the video showcasing the room.
Educational Resources on Disabilities
- Finding Music Resources is a website dedicated to providing a concise and inclusive repository of quality online resources for music educators. For information specific to students with disabilities, visit the Finding Music Resources webpage.
- The University of Texas at Austin has a Center for Music Learning dedicated to informing curriculum development and implementation. On their website, you can find a concise list of resources with additional information on the types of disabilities in music and non-music related settings. To learn more, visit the Center's Resources for All Disabilities webpage.
Sensory Friendly Music Events
- TDF: The Theatre Development Fund, otherwise known as TDF, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing the power of performing arts to everyone. TDF works to cultivate a broad and diverse audience by eliminating barriers to audience members, including individuals with disabilities. Part of their outreach is Autism-Friendly Performances, including a variety of Broadway shows in New York City. Starting in 2011, TDF has presented more than 18 autism-friendly shows on Broadway, including The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Aladdin and more. These performances reduce loud noises, provide quiet spaces and designated areas for breaks during the performance, sensory toys and the freedom to move around during the performance.
- The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment to all patrons. Once a year, the orchestra hosts a sensory friendly performance for individuals with ASD or other disabilities involving sensory sensitivities. Similar to TDF, these performances mitigate sudden loud noises, lower-level lighting, provide noise-reducing materials and fidget toys, designated quiet areas, family restrooms and the freedom to move around or talk, clap and sing throughout the performance. The video below showcases their 2017 performance.
- The Paper Mill Playhouse is a regional musical theater company focused on fostering an inclusive, creative environment for all. In addition to their typical year-round performances, Paper Mill Playhouse also presents Autism-Friendly performances for an inclusive theater experience for individuals with autism and other disabilities. Family members and assisting professionals are encouraged to attend to support their loved ones, as well. Visit the Paper Mill Playhouse website for more information on the kinds of accommodations and performances involved.
- The Kennedy Center is a renowned cultural hub that works year-round to connect thousands of artists and people, both in-person and online. Part of their mission is to create welcoming and comfortable arts experiences for people with autism or other disabilities in their Sensory-Friendly Performances. With similar accommodations to the previous sources discussed, the Kennedy Center provides an enjoyable arts experience for all involved.
- Roundabout Theatre Company is a not-for-profit organized “[celebrating] the power of theatre by spotlighting classics from the past, cultivating new works of the present and educating minds for the future.” This organization organizes Relaxed Performances for an inclusive theatrical experience to meet the neurodiverse needs of all individuals attending. “As the name suggests, these performances are less formal and more supportive of sensory, communication, movement and learning needs. At no time will anyone be asked to leave the performance due to sound, movement or behaviors related to differing cognitive/developmental abilities.” These performances are a judgment-free zone.
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