Why Sensory-Friendly in today’s world?
As you may or may not know, I was an occupational therapist for more than 25 years. A few years ago, a call from a public health organization made me think. It asked for innovative solutions to improve population health. It gave examples of how LEED certifications for buildings and walkability scores improve the health of people living in communities. Why sensory-friendly is what 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, nor education, or even health care.
While more and more events, locations, products, and services are sensory-friendly, more people are now 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.
It was not. You did not enjoy it. Because it was marred by the fact that not only is it popular and packed, but with the flashing lights on the walls, an open kitchen, an open concept, exposed brick, and duct-work, you could not converse with your dinner companions over the noise. Nor could you ignore the many distractions. You’ve likely experienced something 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). Those are people with autism, anxiety, PTSD, concussion, hearing loss, and many other chronic conditions. 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. 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 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!
How do we Find a Sensory-Friendly Solution?
First, we use technology to pool sensory-friendly information from everyone and everywhere. As a first step, we put them in the Sensory-Friendly Finder.
If needed, 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. Let’s work together to make it happen!
Do you know of a sensory-friendly champion? Read this blog post and get a certificate of appreciation to share.
Lastly, If you want to advocate for a business or an organization to become sensory-friendly. Download an advocacy letter you can edit and use.
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.