This weekend, the Siena Saints basketball team is playing a game under “sensory friendly” conditions. On January 5, the University of Albany Women’s team is doing a similar promotion.

A sensory friendly event, whether it be a sporting event, a  movie or a concert, involves reducing sound volume, sometimes dimming lights or eliminating light shows and tailoring promotions to people who prefer less stimulation. The Siena event also has a quiet room for people who want to reduce stimulation even further.

For neuro-typical people (people who don’t live with a disability) these events may seem strange. We’ve become accustomed to flashing lights, over the top announcers and blaring stadium rock music. You may or may not like all the commotion but, even if you don’t like it, you can still tolerate it.

For some people tolerating it is far more challenging. For parents of people who struggle with excess stimulation it often means not being able to experience sports, movies and other events. When you’re child’s discomfort overrides any enjoyment it makes more sense just to stay away.

Staying away brings with it the isolation that we are trying so hard to rid  in our society. If someone can enjoy an event under special sensory conditions might they then want to try it under the usual conditions? Perhaps, and with work, practice and the patience of a more accepting community, that has a better chance of happening. If not, then the sensory friendly event can still be an enjoyable time out.

So often, all a person needs is an invitation, some exposure and some time to experience and process things. Our society has become more tolerant and more and more people are becoming aware that not everyone has the same experience.

Sensory friendly events really help.


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