Sensory friendly store hours and film screenings are more inclusive for children with autism.
More and more businesses and other groups have begun partnering with families in the autism community to offer special, sensory friendly events. If you’re the parent of a kid on the autism spectrum, then you know that completing everyday tasks like running errands can be a challenge—and that getting your child to participate in social events like birthday parties and playdates can be even more difficult. The root cause of the stress is often some kind of sensory processing disorder, or the inability to properly assimilate and manage sensory input, triggering meltdowns, frustration, and tantrums.
Of course, all parents want to protect their children from unnecessary stress and want to avoid unpleasant scenes, but not at the expense of social interactions and other opportunities. Frequently, parents of children with autism feel forced to choose between protecting their children and going to events that promote growth, development, and social interaction.
Here are a few of our favorite businesses offering sensory friendly events.
Fortunately, many businesses are now hosting sensory friendly store hours and events. Once some of the sensory pressure is off, such as glaring fluorescent lights and loud, piped-in music, kids with autism are more likely to be able to relax and enjoy the new experience, whether it be watching a film with family and friends or going toy shopping.
If you have a participating AMC Theater in your area, be sure to check out their sensory friendly film screenings. Theaters that have chosen to adopt the program have
special movie showings where they leave dim lighting on, turn the sound down, and encourage audience members to move, dance, talk, and sing along with the film if they want to.
Recently, Chuck E. Cheese’s locations in Massachusetts and Maryland have unveiled new sensory friendly hours on the first or second Sunday of each month. The events feature dimmed lighting and reduced noise and also serve as a meetup for families of children with ASD and related disorders.
A few of the stores that have locations that have offered sensory friendly shopping programs include Costco, Target, and Toys R’ Us. These events typically include dimmed lighting, reduced store displays, and lowered music and PA announcements. At the Toys R’ Us Christmas shopping event, employees even walked around the store with children, or waited with them in a reserved play area, so parents could keep their presents a surprise.
At Springbrook, we get excited whenever we see businesses, schools, or other community members finding creative ways to make life better for kids with autism. Children shouldn’t have to miss out on fun and beneficial experiences simply because they don’t process sensory input the way that other people do. We applaud these businesses for pioneering these inclusive programs and hope that other organizations will pick up on this trend.
For more information about how to manage the symptoms of autism and related disorders in the real world, bookmark our blog. If you are the parent of a child with autism whose symptoms and behavioral issues have become too severe for you to handle, please reach out to Springbrook. Call us at 864.834.8013 for a free, confidential consultation.