Written by: Denys Collins
On Saturday, October 6th, the Autism Society of Alaska partnered with Arctic Harvest and held their first Fall event. Individuals that experience autism and their families were given an opportunity to enjoy common autumn activities in a sensory friendly and welcoming environment at Arctic Harvest.
On an unusually warm day for October in Alaska, families gathered together at Davies farm. While there, guests were greeted by goats. Then, they were able to go on hay rides, have their faces painted by the amazing Ms. Sally, and pick pumpkins. Some children chose to run through the field while others watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Afterwards, they were able to enjoy treats or food around the fire.
Because the event was before open hours at Arctic Harvest, everyone had a chance to enjoy themselves without the usual chaos, excitement, and crowds that often accompany such festivities. Many individuals that experience autism process sensory information such as sounds or smells in a different manner than those that are neurotypical. Just as autism is a spectrum so are sensory needs. With the help of community partnerships, accommodations can be implemented to make events and activities accessible to individuals that experience autism or have sensory processing disorder.
The Autism Society of Alaska would like to thank their board members, volunteers, Arctic Harvest, and all the families that attended for helping make their first fall event a success.
If you would like information on how to make your business, event, or activity more sensory friendly, please reach out the Autism Society of Alaska at firstname.lastname@example.org. To stay up to date on all of our events, follow us on Facebook or sign up for our newsletter.
On March 31, 2018 the Autism Society of Alaska partnered with FLY Trampoline Park in Fairbanks to provide a sensory friendly jump time. The event was full of smiles, laughter, and of course jumping. Parents made sure not to let the children have all of the fun.
FLY opened an hour early to accommodate the sensory needs of the jumpers. The number of attendees was kept low, and the music was turned off. The staff went above and beyond. They were helpful, friendly, and played too. There was even a surprise visitor that showed up… The Easter Bunny! It is amazing what can happen when organizations partner and set up accommodations.
If you’d like to help fund programs such as this, register and donate to our 10th Annual Alaska 5k for Autism at asagoldenheart.org. We need YOUR help!
This presentation was brought by the Autism Society of Alaska’s Community Enrichment program. This program was created to solve some of the community’s most common requests, access to information about networking with other families and leisure activities for individuals with autism. The Autism Society of Alaska (A.S.A) partners with local businesses to provide leisure opportunities to those who experience autism, while also providing networking, socializing, and referral services to the whole family. A.S.A. also hosts community presentations and workshops on a range of topics affecting individuals with autism.
Want to learn more about the Autism Society of Alaska Community Enrichment Program? Visit A.S.A’s website to see more events to come.
On December 2nd, 2017, the Autism Society of Alaska hosted their 4th annual Sensory Santa event.
By: Denys Collins
On December 2nd, 2017, the Autism Society of Alaska hosted their 4th annual Sensory Santa event. This provided families with children on all spectrums of special needs, a more controlled and welcoming environment to visit with Father Christmas. Simple adjustments were made to reduce sensory stimuli and to create a calming environment.
It is December, and the holiday season is in full swing. The trees are being set up and the gifts are being purchased. In malls across the country many children are lining up to tell Santa their Christmas wish list, but for some this tradition does not come easily. For many with autism and sensory processing disorders, visiting Santa can be difficult. The problems are not all on Santa though, many of the issues lie in all that comes with him. These meetings usually take place in busy places with long crowded lines, loud music, and bright lights. This process can be uncomfortable for many children and for those with special needs, it can quickly become unbearable. The Autism Society of Alaska has joined many other communities by offering sensory friendly Santa experiences each year.
Last weekend, we held our 4th annual sensory Santa event. We allowed all families to have the opportunity to get their picture taken with Father Christmas. This year we utilized time slots to manage the flow of traffic more effectively and reduce the need to wait. Families were greeted in our waiting area with dim Christmas lights, the light smell of cinnamon, and morning snacks. Children were able to make their own ornament to take home or play with provided toys such as trains and a light table. For those that needed a space to get away, a tent with a sound machine and pillows was provided. Many children were more than content just to play with the trains and eat cinnamon rolls.
Once they were ready, families were brought back to a separate room to meet Santa. Our Father Christmas is a kind gentle man that quickly soothes children with his soft voice in a separate room. Being a grandfather himself, he has knowledge of the commonly asked for items which children love. Every family is allowed time to get comfortable with Santa with no pressure to rush. We were very lucky this year to have an amazing photographer volunteer his time and talent and capture the special memory for families.
The holiday season is a special time and no child should be left out of family traditions. The Autism Society of Alaska loves being able to offer the Santa experience with a few accommodations to make it accessible for all children. We are thankful for our title sponsor, Greer Tank and Welding; our helper “elves,” our photographer, Brian Schlumbohm; our Santa and his wife, George and Amy Viltrakis; and all of our attendees for letting us share this special day with them.