How to Host a Sensory-Friendly Easter Event

Easter is a holiday where family and friends come together to celebrate. Oftentimes, many organizations such as churches, community centers and malls will host Easter events. However, for children that experience sensory-sensitivity, celebrating in a public setting outside their home can be stressful. Whether the event involves having the Easter bunny visit a mall or hosting a religious ceremony, integrating sensory-friendly aspects ensures that everyone can attend and participate.

What is Sensory-Friendly?

It is important to understand what the term “sensory-friendly” means. A sensory-friendly event means that the sensory experience has been altered. It makes it less intense. Sensory overload can occur in one or more of the 8 senses. Therefore, it is important to change several aspects of an Easter event. That makes it enjoyable for all children. And their parents too!

Many organizations take steps to improve accessibility and inclusion. They make their event or location sensory-friendly. Oftentimes, these sensory-friendly changes are easy to do. They do not involve a lot of money.

An example is the Bloomington gym in Illinois. They hosted a sensory-friendly Easter bunny visit and egg hunt for children within their community with sensory-processing disorders.

Moreover, you can take steps to make your church sensory-friendly.

Tips to Create a Sensory-Friendly Easter Bunny Event

Below are some tips that any provider or organization can use to help create a sensory-friendly Easter bunny visit and event.

Infographic describing 7 ways you can make your Easter event sensory-friendly.

1. Explain what will happen at the event

A great way to help make an event more accessible is to tell people about what will take place at the event. So, post a schedule with words and pictures. Explain what will happen and at what time. This gives adults and children to know what to expect. Parents can plan accordingly. Children will be less anxious about surprises.

2. Limit the number of attendees

An easy and cost-effective solution to help make an Easter event sensory-friendly is to limit the number of people. Welcoming large crowds at the same time increase noise. And makes the environment confined and crowded. This makes many people uncomfortable. Especially children who experience sensory overload.

Create a simple booking system prior to the event. Take registrations. This lets families to schedule their time to attend your Easter event. You will be able to better manage the event. Your visitors will avoid crowds. Furthermore, you will not have people lining up. No-one enjoys that! .

3. Avoid loud sounds and bright lights

Loud noises and background music can be very irritating for someone who experiences sensory overload. Review article, “A Review of Decreased Sound Tolerance in Autism: Definitions, Phenomenology, and Potential Mechanisms” by Williams et al., (2021) found that 50-70% of people with autism have decreased sound tolerance 1. Therefore, avoid things like:

  • noise making toys
  • loud equipment
  • background music
  • noisy activities

All bright and flashing lights should also be turned down. Preferably off. Ensure that there is sufficient and good lighting for safety. But no overwhelming and bright lights..

In addition provide earmuffs and sunglasses that individuals can rent or purchase while attending the event. They help block out noise and light for people who are sensitive.

4. Quiet zones

Another strategy to help any children or adults who have a greater sensitivity to noise is to create quiet zones. Designate an area for people to sit down. Make it relaxing. And separate from busy areas. Include things like comfortable seating, weighted lap pads, sensory-friendly toys or books and quite crafts.

Little child sitting on grass wearing bunny ears

5. Offer snacks and drink

At your event, offer a variety of snacks and water. Oftentimes, feeling hungry or thirsty leads to sensory overload. Although Easter is a holiday that involves treats, include healthy snacks and water too. No-one is happy when they are hungry or thirsty.

Furthermore, provide accessible toilets, family toilets and inclusive toilets. The urge to use the toilet without the ability to easily access a toilet can lead to sensory overload .

6. Provide sensory-friendly toys

Provide sensory-friendly toys at your Easter event. This may include fidget toys, small textured balls, silly putty. These toys are fun for both children and adults.

Young Asian child wearing bunny ears holding a basket of Easter eggs.

7. Offer sensory-friendly hours

Offer sensory-friendly or autism hours. These are dedicated times during the day. They are often open only for people with sensory sensitivity. During these times, all noises and bright lights are turned down or off, for example.

For instance, at a mall, fountains and escalators will be turned off. Background music is not played. Additionally, a small number of individuals would attend the event at a time.

Staff and volunteers working at the event may have additional training. They learn strategies to support people with disabilities.

Have a happy, sensory-friendly Easter!

Here are more ideas about Easter:

Looking for other ways to make your holiday events sensory-friendly, accessible and inclusive? Get help with these blog posts:

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  1. Williams, Z. J., He, J. L., Cascio, C. J., & Woynaroski, T. G. (2021). A Review of Decreased Sound Tolerance in Autism: Definitions, Phenomenology, and Potential Mechanisms. Neuroscience &Amp; Biobehavioral Reviews, 121, 1–17.
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