Did you know there are already autism friendly towns in the world? Sensory friendly, by comparison is a little bit more/different than being autism friendly. We want to help Saint John become sensory friendly for residents and tourists alike, and we are ready, willing and able to help.
Most recently, towns like Port-aux-Basques, Newfoundland, right here in Canada, and Clonakilty in Ireland have already become autism friendly. Each of these towns did things a little differently on their journey to becoming autism friendly, but in common they provided both staff training and spaces that were accommodating to people with autism.
Sensory friendly helps people with autism, but also people with PTSD, concussion, anxiety, hearing loss, dementia, highly sensitive people and simply those who experience sensory overload.
Do you ever feel like a space, a place or an event is too busy, too noisy or too bright? Have you ever left a restaurant, store or mall, performance, show or event because it became overwhelming? Too noisy to carry on a conversation? Too bright that you got a headache? Too crowded that you felt uncomfortable? For people with autism, PTSD, concussion, anxiety, hearing loss, dementia, or highly sensitive people that happens often and in everyday life.
We are ready help Saint John residents, visitors and tourists alike enjoy a sensory friendly experience while living in or visiting our wonderful city. We recently added sensory friendly initiatives to the Hallowe’en event at the Saint John City Market. And we are working with student unions at universities in New Brunswick to bring sensory friendly strategies to students on campus.
So how does something become sensory friendly?
There are two key features. The first is a comprehensive assessment of the space, place or event. Did you know that there are more than five senses? What you taste, smell, see, touch and hear. But also we have a sense of movement, balance and an internal sense of our body. A thorough evaluation and insights into what can easily be modified to help all customers is essential. Often times, little changes go a long way to making something sensory friendly. For example, reducing background noise is easy and very effective at creating a more comfortable space for everyone.
The second is staff training. Learning what it feels like for people with autism, PTSD, concussion, anxiety, hearing loss, dementia, or who are highly sensitive helps staff understand the experience from another point of view. There are customized strategies that spaces, places and events can put into place so that residents or visitors going out to a restaurant, shopping at a store, watching a show, visiting a tourist attraction, receiving a service at the bank, or in health care, learning in a class, or going to the gym that distinctly improve the sensory friendly customer/client experience.
At Sensory Friendly Solutions we are leading the way by developing the standards so that assessment and training are consistent and can be applied anywhere. We are also developing an app for sensory friendly seekers to come together, connect, network, get information and resources about sensory friendly spaces, places and events, share and influence the world around them.
Sensory friendly helps people live their daily lives. Being sensory friendly means that people can go out and eat, drink, shop, live, learn, play and travel in a comfortable and enjoyable way.
Tell us, do you want to see Saint John become sensory friendly? Join our community on Facebook @SensoryFriendly and share your thoughts and ideas.