The State Fair of Texas Is Offering "Sensory-Friendly" Morning Hours for Individuals With Autism

W3stfa11, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
W3stfa11, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0 / W3stfa11, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

For people with sensory-processing issues, including people with autism, big events can be utterly overwhelming. For these individuals, loud noises and bright lights aren't exciting; they're a tsunami of overstimulation. As a result, going to something like a state fair—with its endlessly looping music, flashing lights, loud games and rides, and carnival barkers—has the potential to be more of a traumatic experience than a fun one. But this year, the State Fair of Texas is trying to make room for people with sensory-processing issues to enjoy the fair by turning down the lights and sounds during specific hours, according to NBC DFW.

The fair is launching "sensory-friendly mornings" designed for people who might find the typical fair goings-on too much to handle, both kids and adults. Every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., people at the fair can experience a slightly toned-down version of the event. "Quiet zones" are set up around the grounds so that anyone who's struggling with all the hullabaloo can take a break and depressurize. Families will be able to pick up a list of activities [PDF] designed to be easy on the senses. The fair's Midway will also be devoid of lights, music, and microphones from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

To create the program, state fair organizers teamed up with local groups who work with people with autism as well as IBCCES, an international board that grants credentials to professionals and organizations that work with people with cognitive disorders. "We hope this new addition provides an opportunity for people to experience the Fair in a more accessible way," the organizers said in a press release.

The State Fair of Texas runs until October 21.

[h/t NBC DFW]