The world is becoming a much more inclusive place for those of us who have special needs, even as a lot of people still believe that vaccinations cause autism (hint: they don’t. But failing to vaccinate your children might result in a short life for your kid and others). The Ohio State Fair knows that a lot of the kids who visit each year fall into the category of those who require a little extra help to adapt to the rest of us, which is why it hosted a “Sensory Day” on Wednesday, July 31. Hopefully other organizations will follow this example.
The fair has organized a day without flashing lights or music, and tried to cut down on loud sounds as well. The Ohio State Fair also tried to organize more streamlined parking to get kids to the fun festivities that much faster. Long lines moved fast.
Director Shawn Henry of the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence said: “If you are overwhelmed and need a break, you can go in the quiet room. We’ll have fidgets and other items just to make the environment something that’s inviting, that’s relaxing, then, you can go back out and enjoy other activities.”
The hope is that the Ohio State Fair will draw more attention as perhaps the most inclusive event in the country. General Manager Virgil Strickler said: “The Ohio State Fair isn’t just about food and rides. It is about community. We want to make the fair as enjoyable as possible for all Ohioans, and Sensory Friendly Morning is one way we can achieve that goal.”
In order to increase enjoyment for all attendees, the space was reorganized with prompts that help everyone get to their next ride a little bit faster. The schedule was presented visually to help people find the right ride at the right time.
Up to sixteen percent of young children may suffer from a sensory processing disorder, although many parents and doctors still fail to diagnose these concerns. Those kids who are affected may not respond to touch, sound, or visual stimuli the same way the rest of us do. They can become very sensitive to strange patterns of unfamiliar environments, and may be easily distracted when those situations present.
Hopefully the Ohio State Fair’s new considerations will make it easier for parents to enjoy the day with their children who have special needs in the future as well, which should result in a great experience for many summers to come!