Tag: autism parenting
A Special Visit with Caring Bunny: Bunny Photo Experience
Spelling to Communicate (S2C) Virtual Workshop
Creating an Affordable Sensory-Friendly Room
A sensory-friendly room can be a crucial step toward providing comfort and relaxation for people with sensory sensitivities. However, the idea of taking on this task may seem overwhelming because of the high costs associated with it. Recently, Autism Connection of Pennsylvania visited our friends at Three Rivers Community Care, where CEO, Allison Broaddrick, demonstrated that many of the elements found in our region’s large, sensory-friendly spaces can be replicated on a smaller, more affordable scale. Examining larger projects in the Pittsburgh area is a source of inspiration.
Examples of Sensory-Friendly Areas
Autism Connection of Pennsylvania has seen innovative examples of areas that help people with sensory sensitivities since the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust brought sensory-friendly performances to our region back in 2013. One of the most outstanding endeavors is the sensory-friendly area at the Pittsburgh International Airport, Presley’s Place. This project motivated The Honorable Jennifer McCrady to initiate sensory friendly areas in the Family Division of the Allegheny County Courthouse.
Affordable Sensory-Friendly Rooms
First, a quick congratulations to Allison Broaddrick, for making the list of 30 Under 30 in the Pittsburgh Business Times. Her ingenuity and knack for problem-solving are among her greatest assets, and her use of inexpensive materials in creating a calming area at Three Rivers Community Care is a great model. The process began with addressing the specific needs that her friends, clients and associates expressed. From there, the team began putting ideas into motion.
Quick Tips for Inexpensive Sensory-Friendly Spaces
Choose the right color scheme: Soft pastels or muted shades of blue, green or lavender can help to create a calming atmosphere.
Manage lighting: Lighting can play a significant role in sensory experiences. Use soft lighting to create a relaxing environment. Avoid bright or fluorescent and flashing lights. Consider using dimmer switches or lampshades to help control the level of light.
Provide comfortable seating: Choose a comfortable chair or couch with soft, supportive cushions.
Incorporate soft textures: Use soft blankets, pillows, and plush toys to create a sensory-friendly atmosphere that is still texturally interesting.
Use soundproofing materials: Soundproofing materials can help to reduce outside noise, creating a quiet environment. Use foam panels or curtains to absorb sound.
Implement what works for for the person as an individual: Taking the lead from those who will benefit from the space is a critical first step. Look for elements that resonate with personally; it can be a favorite toy, activity, or sound.
Begin With The End In Mind
We can’t stress enough how very important it is to begin by listening to people who experience overwhelming sensory processing experiences. In each successful endeavor, people with lived expertise took active roles in the planning and development, and each project adjusts to feedback from different perspectives. The partnership between the Pittsburgh International Airport and Hayes Design Group Architects is a prime example because this collaboration began by bringing people who have sensory processing differences, autism, post-traumatic stress, and anxiety to the planning and development table at its inception.
Autism Connection of Pennsylvania continues to collaborate with the community in creating environments that are inclusive and accessible. Current projects include Accessibility in the Arts and the Frick Environmental Center Sensory Classroom. Time and time again, we find that many ideas are remarkably simple and can be inexpensive to replicate if we listen carefully and respond by bringing ideas to life.
Introduction to Autism
Getting any new diagnosis comes with the need to understand it. Learn the basics about autism, and get some take-home tips, from people who understand and have worked in this field for 20+ years.
We will explain the details about autism and how brain differences help shape personality, likes, dislikes, fears, eating, sleeping, the senses, and communication. Please come and ask your questions, meet others with similar concerns and learn what to do at home and in the community!
This is a free workshop, but registration is required.
A Reason to Run by Rachel Sivley
I love running, but there are still many days I wonder why I punish myself by running non-stop for hours at a time. When I get discouraged or lose my motivation, I remember my daughters and how I want to be an example of not only a healthy lifestyle for them, but I want them to challenge themselves. That looks different for each of them as Lydia is a neurotypical, outgoing 10-year-old who has a heart the size of a large country while Charlotte is my introverted, amazing autistic 11-year-old.
Charlotte has so many uphill battles to fight in her daily life that come with her diagnosis. She loves to make people laugh but can struggle to find the right words to make a punchline hit right. She wants to try new things but a shaky sense of equilibrium and pronounced self-doubt can make many things feel impossible. She loves playing elaborate make-believe games with her little sister, but gets frustrated and overwhelmed if the game takes a turn she doesn’t expect. I am so proud when I see her push through her fears and limits. Each time she is able to do something new, it’s like watching the underdog win the gold medal. If she can push herself to strive for more every day of her life, why am I complaining about a measly few miles that I chose to run? Her and her sister are my inspiration every time I lace up and head out the door.
I have been raising money for Autism Connection of PA while I’ve been training for the Pittsburgh Marathon this time because I want parents like me to continue to have access to a community of caregivers and autistic individuals who can offer advice and support. I keep up with the newsletters and website to hear about sensory-friendly events in town and to be informed about current research into autism. I want to feel as equipped as possible to help Charlotte navigate a world that isn’t going to cut her any slack for a disability that (in her case) isn’t obvious upon first meeting her. I’ve been lucky enough to meet my fundraising goal through generous donations from businesses, family, and friends that recognize the importance of my mission. I can’t thank them enough! I’m constantly floored by how people respond so compassionately when I’ve shared our family’s story. Their support will enable many more autistic individuals and their families to know they have a place that offers comfort, information and community right in their own city.
After the race on May 1st, I may not be working toward an immediate fundraising goal, but I will always be promoting the mission of Autism Connection of PA. It’s been a great resource for my family and with support of generous donors, it can continue to make a huge impact in this community for a very long time.