As you may or may not know, I was an occupational therapist for more than 25 years. So, a few years ago, a call for proposals from a public health organization really made me think. First, it asked for innovative solutions to improve population health. Then, it gave examples of how LEED certifications for buildings and walkability scores improve the health of people living in communities. “Why sensory-friendly” is the first thing that came to mind for me.
And, I thought, “I want to solve a problem for people with sensory sensitivity. More importantly, I wanted to do this by harnessing the power of technology. Because I know we can use technology to solve a daily-life problem and I don’t see anyone else with the solution. Not occupational therapy, not education, not health care.
Meanwhile, more and more events, locations, products, and services are sensory-friendly, more people are now also looking for those sensory-friendly experiences. Thankfully, many people, businesses, and organizations help and influence events, locations, products, and services to adopt sensory-friendly practices.
As an example, you make plans to go to the newest, trendiest restaurant in town with your friends and family. It was supposed to be a great evening. And…
It was not. You did not enjoy it. Because it was marred by the fact that not only was it popular and packed, but with the flashing lights on the walls, an open kitchen, an open concept floor plan design, exposed brick, and exposed duct-work, you could not converse with your dinner companions over the noise. Nor could you ignore the many visual and sound distractions. You’ve likely experienced something just like that.
Experiences that are disrupted by busy, noisy, and bright is an everyday occurrence for 1/3 of the population. That’s our rough math of all the groups of people who report, or self-identify, with additional sensory sensitivity or sensory overload. For example, those are people with autism, anxiety, PTSD, concussion, hearing loss, and many other chronic conditions. Invariably you know someone with that underlying condition in your friend or family group. In addition, sensory sensitivity simply happens more often in a world that is increasingly busy, noisy, and bright.
Furthermore, that “1/3 of the population” who are sensory sensitive is on the rise. Notwithstanding the fact that many of those underlying conditions are being diagnosed at increasing rates as people become more educated and aware.
For example, in May of 2019, “sensory overload” was being searched on Google 27, 000 times a month. In addition, in November of 2019, “sensory overload” was being searched 33, 000 times a month.
We searched the number of Google News items around just 5 possible data points and found it has increased exponentially in the last 5 years. The results? From negligible in 2015 to 698 by mid-November of this year.
Google News Alerts alone identified 75 sensory-friendly events or locations in North America in just 7 days. I know because I counted!
First, we use technology to gather sensory-friendly information from everyone and everywhere. Then, we put them in the Sensory-Friendly Finder.
Moreover, we make ourselves available to step in and fill the knowledge-gap for events, locations, products, and services that wish to become sensory-friendly. We are grateful there are so many other people, organizations, and businesses influencing the world to adopt sensory-friendly too!
We all want the same thing: more sensory-friendly. So, let’s work together to make it happen!
Do you know of a sensory-friendly champion? Read this: Darian’s Story and get a certificate of appreciation to share.
If you want to advocate for a business or an organization to become sensory-friendly. Download an advocacy letter you can edit and use. No email sign up. Just download and use to help make the world more sensory-friendly today by sending it off to a business or organization to encourage them to become sensory-friendly.
Here are explanations as to how and why many different types of businesses, organizations, and services become sensory-friendly:
Finally, if you do want to keep learning more, we have four different newsletters you can choose from depending on what sensory-friendly topic you are interested in: children, tourism, business, and work. Sign up for any or all of them!
Christel Seeberger worked as an occupational therapist for more than 25 years helping people with sensory sensitivity who experience sensory overload. Christel has sensory sensitivity herself; she has hearing loss and wears hearing aids. She founded Sensory Friendly Solutions in 2016. Sensory Friendly Solutions brings together people around the world looking for sensory friendly living and businesses and organizations who offer sensory friendly experiences.