La Habra, California
Many autistic people share challenging, extreme responses to sensory experiences. Something as seemingly simple as a trip to your local Albertson’s grocery store or visiting a big shopping mall like the Southwest Plaza can become a sensory nightmare.
Just think about all the different experiences that must be dealt with:
- Echoes bouncing between hard linoleum or cement floors and high ceilings
- Multiple conversations and music sources occurring simultaneously
- Intermingled perfumes, body odors, scented hand lotions, and food court smells
- Bright neon or fluorescent lights, or people wearing bold colors and patterns
If you’re an autistic parent, whether or not your kids are autistic like you, naturally you’d like to take them to the places that other parents take their kids to have fun.
But how can you protect yourself from a sensory onslaught?
The usual aids are always a good idea.
Ear buds or plugs can help filter out some of the sound pollution.
Wearing dark glasses or a broad brimmed hat can protect you from visual overload.
Don’t forget to bring an odor-override bag with a sprig of lavender, or a few coffee beans, or a cotton ball soaked with vanilla, so you can inhale something you enjoy after being exposed to chemical cleaners or perfumes.
But, wouldn’t it be nice if the world could be just a little less noisy, bright, and smelly, so you wouldn’t need to plan to bring so many sensory protection aids?
Well if you’re lucky you may find a sensory-friendly mall, store, movie theater, or museum near you.
For instance, The Children’s Museum at La Habra on South Euclid Street in La Habra, California, offers “Sensory Friendly Tuesdays” from 9:00 to 10:00 AM Pacific Time. This is a program for children with autism and sensory processing differences. Children may explore the museum without the crowds, noise, and bright lights of a typical museum day. The lights will be dimmed, and the noise volume of exhibits will be lowered. During this time there will also be no overhead announcements, which can be jarring for some. Because of limited capacity, since a huge crowd would affect the calm, quiet atmosphere, reservations are required. The cost is $7.00 per person two years old and older, free for museum members, and their website offers free admission for one licensed aide per child.
When my (autistic) husband and I were raising our children (2 autistic, 1 NT) in Whittier, CA, we used to love our family visits to the Children’s Museum of La Habra. Back then, I don’t know if they had Sensory Tuesdays, and honestly we didn’t know yet that we had a neurodivergent family. One thing I remember, though, is that our kids had a great time exploring the exhibits and activities.
If you live near La Habra, CA, and you want a sensory-friendly children’s museum experience for your highly sensitive child, contact The Children’s Museum at La Habra, [email protected] (562) 383-4236 and ask about reservations for their next Sensory Friendly Tuesday event. You’ll find them at 301 South Euclid Street in La Habra, California, 90631. They’re near Portola Park, Brio Park, the La Habra Library, the La Habra Historical Museum, and the La Habra Depot Theatre. There’s a lot to do in this town. Let me know in the comments if you visit them. I’d love to hear about your experience.
If you’re not within easy driving distance of La Habra, check online for sensory-friendly events near you. They are becoming more and more popular as many parents are learning that, not only are they parenting autistic kids, but they themselves were autistic all along.