Sensory Bus makes large community events accessible for neurodivergent people
The Autism Community Store in Aurora is developing a new tool that will help neurodiverse people navigate large community events. The Sensory Bus is specifically designed to be a refuge.
"People can choose the color that feels calming to them and their senses," said Shannon Sullivan, as she showed CBS4 the array of colors that light the interior.
Sullivan is cofounder of the Autism Community Store and the designer of the Sensory Bus. She's fitting it based on scientific research and years of personal experience.
"There's good research around the fact that nature is calming for people," Sullivan explained.
There are elements of nature throughout the bus, a video of water projected on the back wall, artificial moss and plants throughout, and rocks.
"What we tried to do with the bus is take away all the sensory challenges that can be hard, like make it sound insulated and quiet. And then, add in elements that are really engaging, that are going to distract people and immerse them in the experience of being in the bus," Sullivan told CBS4.
The bubble tube is an example of an immersive distraction. You can get lost watching the bubbles, which is a kind of sensory engagement that entrances you without asking anything of you. There are also beads, string lights, and even aroma therapy diffusers.
"We diffuse very specific oils that, again, have some good research around them, including hinoki, which is from Japan. And, the researchers have actually documented that it can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels in people when it's being diffused," Sullivan said.
Having a mobile space like this is a huge resource for people on the autism spectrum and other neurodiversities.
"The Sensory Bus is part of our work to make the community-at-large more welcoming for people who have autism and other neurodiversities," Sullivan said.
"The world doesn't fit my son, but they made that bus to fit a spectrum of needs that kids have," said Brian Clark, who's son Kingston has autism spectrum disorder.
Clark relies on the Autism Community Store and the community it gathers together, and a bus like the Sensory Bus is another tool he has to help his son.
"My daughter actually has Down syndrome, and autism together," said Julie Dobler. "Sometimes she gets ramped up and I don't know how to make that better for her."
Dobler was thrilled to experience the Sensory Bus, and her daughter, Myranda took right too it. She explored every part of it with great wonder. Dobler said that she will look for events where the bus is so that Myranda can get out in the community.
"Anything that helps make her world bigger is fantastic," Dobler said.
LINK: Shine Music Festival
The Sensory Bus will be at Shine Music Festival, which a radically inclusive multi-stage concert experience. Shine Music Festival is Saturday, August 27, 2022 at Civic Center Park from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and it's free. Colorado's own Float Like a Buffalo will be headlining the festival.
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