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Columbia, SC: City to become "more sensory friendly"

Oct 28, 2022, Carolina (SC) News: ‘We’re going to break down barriers’: Columbia becomes more sensory friendly

Businesses and organizations in Columbia, South Carolina — and across the United States — are expanding to become sensory-inclusive. The S.C. Philharmonic and the S.C. State Museum offer sensory-friendly spaces and events for those who have sensory-input issues. Sensory input or processing issues can be a sensitivity to bright lights, loud noises or cramped environments. Sensory processing issues are common in those on the autism spectrum, according to Autism Speaks. Those with sensory issues may be too overwhelmed by their surroundings, such as bright lights or loud noises. Or, they can be too underwhelmed, and may feel the need to constantly move around or make sounds. Even some airports such as those in Myrtle Beach and Atlanta offer calm rooms that cater to those with sensory input issues. “I think there is a national conversation (on sensory accommodation) that is happening now in a more mindful, authentic way than ever before,” said Susan Cafferty, the education and engagement director at the S.C. Philharmonic. The philharmonic has sent ensembles in the past to places such as nursing homes or disability centers to play concerts. But the philharmonic is hosting its first sensory-friendly concert at the Koger Center in February…. At the S.C. State Museum, people can attend sensory-friendly exhibits and events the second Saturday of every month. These “accessibility mornings” were implemented pre-COVID, but started again this fall. … The museum partners with many organizations during its accessibility mornings, Dickson said. Able South Carolina, a disability-led nonprofit, is one of those. “We try to help (organizations) find ways to ensure that their daily activity is friendly to all types of disability inclusion,” said Mary Alex Kopp, director of public relations at Able S.C. “That being said, we totally understand that there are some people with certain types of disabilities that some experiences need to be modified or changed.” …

Many sensory-friendly toys such as putty, fidget spinners and popping toys can be used to alleviate issues with sensory processing. (Photos and graphic by Danielle Wallace)


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