June 22, 2018

Improving Inclusion – Part 3: Sensory Kits

How we Episcopalians love to experience a thundering organ and rousing choral music, complete with hand bells and chimes and sunshine beaming through the stained glass, wait… why is that family leaving?

This article is the third in a series about improving inclusion for people with disabilities in our faith communities. Some disabilities are invisible. Those who have particular sensitivity to noise and lights may not be able to enjoy a typical worship service.

In Fort Wayne, Indiana, AWS Foundation makes Sensory Kits available to large public venues such as our downtown baseball park. The Kits include “noise reducing headphones, several small fidget items, a communications deck, identification wristband, a weighted comfort item and sanitizing wipes. Each item was chosen to answer needs identified by individuals and families when attending an event in a public venue.” (From Sensory Kits article, March 28, 2018).

The items in the kits could be easily assembled by a congregation. If your faith community is interested in providing equal opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of your worship, consider providing a kit with adaptive tools to help with loud noises, bright lights and closed spaces. AWS Foundation notes that they use latex free items in Sensory Kits because many people with autism also have latex allergies. To determine what to include in your kit, ask families what would be most helpful to them, and/or contact a local agency that serves people with disabilities.