The Ohio State Fair Is Hosting a ‘Sensory Day’ for Individuals With Autism

Halfpoint/iStock via Getty Images
Halfpoint/iStock via Getty Images

The Ohio State Fair has been a local tradition since 1850, and this year, fair organizers are trying something different. On Wednesday, July 31, 2019, the Columbus, Ohio, fair will offer a sensory-friendly morning for people with autism or other conditions that make them vulnerable to sensory overload, WOWK reports.

State fairs are normally filled with flashing lights, screaming children, and loud music—all factors that could be overwhelming for some people on the autism spectrum. That means many kids and their families are forced to stay home and miss out on what would otherwise be a fun experience because of the potential for sensory overload.

This summer, extra-sensitive guests will have an opportunity to attend the fair in a safe, inclusive environment. The Ohio State Fair teamed up with OCALI (the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence) to remove or reduce any potential sensory triggers. Rides will run without the regular loud music and flashing lights, and if riders ever feel overwhelmed, they can take a break in the fair's air-conditioned quiet room. There they'll find low-tech and mid-tech activities, like fidget devices, that they can use to wind down.

Another way families can help kids with autism feel more comfortable at the fair is by preparing them for the trip. OCALI has written up a document that caretakers can use to walk their children through the day ahead, with full-color photos to illustrate each attraction. Anyone can access it for free here [PDF].

This year's fair in Columbus will follow the example of several other fairs and amusement parks that have made their attractions more inclusive for autistic guests in recent years. The State Fair of Texas offered its first sensory-friendly morning in 2018, and Sesame Place in Pennsylvania recently became a certified autism center.

The 2019 Ohio State Fair opens on July 24 and will run through August 4.

[h/t WOWK]

Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing Site in Pennsylvania Amish Country Accommodates Horses and Buggies

William Thomas Cain/Stringer/Getty Images
William Thomas Cain/Stringer/Getty Images

One way coronavirus testing centers can encourage social distancing is by testing patients in their vehicles. In Pennsylvania's Amish Country, that includes horses and buggies as well as cars. As CNN reports, a small clinic is accommodating the old-school transportation method in an effort to make tests more accessible to Amish and Mennonite communities.

Most residents of Belleville, Pennsylvania, are Amish or Mennonite—two groups that are uniquely vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their cautious approach to technology can result in lower news consumption, which may leave people ill-informed about a crisis that's changing by the day.

Both communities are also tight-knit: a benefit in most times of hardship, but a recipe for tragedy during a pandemic. "When they have church, they have 300 people crowded together in a little farmhouse. From the point of view of an infection like this, this is a disaster," Dr. D. Holmes Morton, founder and medical director of the Central Pennsylvania Clinic in Belleville, told CNN.

Many Amish and Mennonite meetings and church services have been suspended indefinitely, but social distancing is just one part of keeping the communities safe. Testing is also essential to containing the virus, and the Central Pennsylvania Clinic aims to make its tests available to as many people as possible. As one of the few coronavirus testing sites in the area, they're working to test asymptotic patients as well as those who are feeling sick. Research suggests that up to 50 percent of novel coronavirus carriers show no symptoms.

The clinic is not just accommodating Amish and Mennonite patients, but also how they see them. Residents are able to roll up in their horses and buggies and get tested without stepping into the clinic. At least 65 people have used the drive-through (or ride-through) clinic since it opened on April 1.

[h/t CNN]

How to Make a DIY Face Mask at Home—No Sewing Required

Sean Gallup, iStock via Getty Images
Sean Gallup, iStock via Getty Images

By the time the CDC told all Americans to start wearing face coverings to slow the spread of coronavirus in early April, protective masks were already hard to find. The medical-grade masks that are available should be reserved for healthcare workers, which leaves everyone else with limited options for following the updated safety guidelines. Luckily, making your own mask at home is fast, ethical, and cheap—and you don't even need to break out the sewing machine to do it.

This video, posted on Julie Eigenmann's Instagram, illustrates how to make a no-sew face mask using supplies you likely already have at home. Start by folding a square scarf or bandana four times lengthwise to create a strip that's big enough to cover the bottom half of your face. Next, pull each end of the cloth through an elastic hair tie or rubber band (one on the right end and one of the left) so that it's roughly divided into thirds. Fold the ends into the center and tuck one end into the opening of the other to hold it all together. Pull the hair ties over your ears to secure the mask to your face.

To boost your mask's filtration power, place a trimmed coffee filter or paper towel on the cloth where your mouth will go before folding it.

After wearing the mask outdoors, you'll need to disinfect it. Take it apart, throw away the disposable filter, and soak the fabric in soapy water for a few minutes. When the cloth is clean and dry, add a new filter and reassemble the mask as shown above to use it again.

DIY cloth masks are better than nothing when it comes to protecting your face from someone coughing or sneezing nearby. But no mask will make you invincible to COVID-19, and you shouldn't use one as an excuse to act any differently outdoors. Use them on necessary trips outside, like to the grocery store or your essential job, and continue keeping a safe distance from others.

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