Sensory backpacks now available at two Museums

Discovery Place

Sensory Bags

Families love to visit Discovery Place museums, but sometimes a trip to the Museum can be a very overwhelming or even stressful experience for some children with sensory disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

To make the Discovery Place experience more accessible and enjoyable for these families, we've teamed up with TEACCH Autism at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to create sensory backpacks.

Located at Admissions at Discovery Place Science and Discovery Place Kids-Huntersville, these sensory kits contain industry-approved tools that will help families navigate our Museums.

Each bag includes noise-cancelling headphones, sensory squish toys and a custom visual schedule, a visual tool that uses pictures and symbols to depict the Museum experience. A family can lay out their whole visit using Velcro images of the different exhibition areas to help prepare their child for experiences including waiting in line, getting wet at the water table or hearing loud noises during a live show.

Discovery Place Science map for loud and quiet spaces

Discovery Place Science kits include a modified map to indicate loud and quiet spaces in the Museum. Kits at Discovery Place Kids offer a social narrative, a visual story that helps families prepare their child for what will happen from the moment they walk in the front doors until the family decides to leave.

Sensory bags are free resources available at Admissions at Discovery Place Kids-Huntersville and Discovery Place Science. Guests who would like to check out a bag just need to leave their ID at Admissions, consistent with Discovery Place's wheelchair reservation process. Upon their return, guests will be asked for feedback on the kits to make sure they are successfully meeting the needs of the family.

"We want families to know that neurodiverse audiences matter to us, and their experiences are just as important as any other guests," said Charla Fields, Senior Director, Community Engagement and Impact. "We aren't experts in Autism or sensory disorders, so their feedback is very valuable in making sure these tools best fit their needs."

Sensory backpacks are in the works for Discovery Place Nature and Discovery Place Kids-Rockingham.

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  • Discovery Place