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  • Writer's pictureNneka Gunn

Sensory Awareness: How to Plan Inclusive Events for Attendees with Autism

April is Autism Awareness Month and April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. This is an opportune time for event planners to foster inclusivity within their events. By taking the necessary steps towards welcoming individuals with autism into our communities, we can create meaningful, Wynning experiences that everyone will enjoy!

Did you know:

More than 5.4 million adults in the U.S., or 2.2 percent of the U.S. population, are on the autism spectrum (CDC and Disability Scoop, 2020).

According to the Autism Speaks website, people with Autism may have sensitivities to*:

  • Sights

  • Sounds

  • Smells

  • Tastes

  • Touch

  • Balance (vestibular)

  • Awareness of body position and movement (proprioception)

  • Awareness of internal body cues and sensations (interoception)

  • Autistic people can experience both hypersensitivity (over-responsiveness) and hyposensitivity (under-responsiveness) to a wide range of stimuli. Most people have a combination of both.

What does this mean?*

Many autistic people experience hypersensitivity to bright lights or certain light wavelengths (e.g., LED or fluorescent lights). Certain sounds, smells, textures and tastes can also be overwhelming.

Hyposensitivity is also common. This can look like a constant need for movement; difficulty recognizing sensations like hunger, illness or pain; or attraction to loud noises, bright lights and vibrant colors. People who are hyposensitive may engage in sensory seeking to get more sensory input from the environment.

How can event planners execute more inclusive events for people with Autism?*

  • Use light covers, sunglasses or a hat under fluorescent lights

  • Provide ear plugs or headphones in noisy environments

  • Provide spaces with a closed door or high walls

  • Avoid strongly scented products

  • Choose foods that avoid aversions to textures, temperatures or spices

  • Adjust schedule(s) to avoid crowds

  • Provide visual supports for those who have difficulty processing spoken information

  • Offer fidget toys, chewies and other sensory tools (Swag)

  • Arrange decor furniture to provide safe, open spaces

  • Offer frequent movement breaks throughout the day

*Data Source: Autism Speaks website.

To learn more about Autism and Autism Awareness Month, visit the Autism Speaks website. Have you planned and executed an event that was inclusive to people with Autism? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it! As always, WE would like to wish you the best in all that you do!

Schedule a meeting with our team of experienced and talented event professionals today. WE go above and beyond to ensure that your dream events are always a Wynning Experience!

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