It’s estimated that as many as 20% of children in America have a diagnosed neurodivergence like ADHD or autism.  For these children and their families, finding enjoyable activities that are inclusive and accommodating can be difficult. A well-planned sensory safe event can change that by providing an inclusive, understanding, and stimulating environment suitable for all disabled kids.
What Makes an Event “Sensory Safe”?
Children with disabilities, especially those on the autism spectrum, can be sensitive to loud noises, bright lights, crowds, and other overstimulating elements commonly found at public events. Adjustments like lowered sound and lighting, access to quiet spaces, relaxed rules, and sensory materials work together to create a sensory safe environment.
Why Sensory Safe Events Matter
- Reduced Risk of Overstimulation. Sensory overload is a very real and serious concern. Sensory overload can be overwhelming and distressing for neurodivergent children. A neurodivergent child’s discomfort can be so severe that a kid might need to abruptly leave an activity. Sensory safe events take these sensitivities into account right from the start to reduce the risk of overstimulation. These events often feature reduced sensory stimuli, such as dimmed lights, quieter sounds, and less crowded spaces.
- Safety and Security. With a thoughtful layout and understanding atmosphere, sensory safe events transform typically overwhelming venues into places where neurodiverse children can laugh, play, and relax in safety. Parents find comfort in knowing their child can safely enjoy public events without struggle or scrutiny.
- Emotional Well-being and Community Building. When neurodivergent kids can attend sensory safe events, they have the opportunity to engage in social activities and experiences that may not be possible in typical, overwhelming environments. This can lead to positive emotional experiences, boosting their self-esteem and overall well-being. It also allows them to flex their social skills and build new relationships, contributing to their personal growth and development. Parents can meet new families bond over shared experiences and gain resources to further support their child.
How You Can Help
Awareness is growing, but there’s still a long way to go before inclusion is the norm.
- Support businesses and organizations that offer sensory-friendly options.
- If your local children’s theater, museum, or library doesn’t currently provide this, kindly ask them to consider it.
- Submit sensory safe events to our calendar and promote them to other families. Well-attended events are more likely to become permanent events.
With more understanding and acceptance, we can work together to make sure no child misses out on the simple joy of being a kid.