Sensory-friendly sessions at Sheffield museum for World Autism Day

A South Yorkshire museum is launching a series of opening days especially for people with autism and other sensory needs.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 12:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 12:37 pm
Dean Turner at the Christmas Vintage Weekend and Market at the National Emergency Services Museum. Picture Scott Merrylees

The National Emergency Services Museum is marking World Autism Day next Tuesday April 2 by opening its doors for its very first sensory-friendly session.

The aim of the initiative is to make the museum more accessible to people with sensory needs by providing ‘quiet sessions’ where immersive elements, such as sounds, smells and flashing lights, are turned off.

Visitors will be able to enjoy all that the museum has to offer at the session today, including more than 50 historic vehicles on site, and exhibitions on the history of the ambulance service and the Blitz. But things known to cause sensory overload for some people – such as sirens – will not be used.

The museum will also provide specially equipped backpacks, containing aids such as ear protectors, to further support those with sensory needs.

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There will be ‘chill out zones’ on each floor to provide a quiet space for visitors and additional staff on hand for further support.

The museum has been working alongside the Autism Centre for Supported Employment to deliver the sensory friendly days.

Glynis Beck, centre manager, said: “The Autism Centre for Supported Employment are delighted to be working in partnership with NESM on their sensory friendly days.

“We have worked in partnership with the team at the museum for many years and have always appreciated the support and kindness they have given our clients who are on work experience placements at the museum.

“The museum is a lovely old building filled with lots of interesting artefacts and it’s brilliant that children and adults with autism can now enjoy this amazing experience.”

The sensory-friendly openings will kick off on April 2, and then be held on the first Tuesday of every month. From 10am until 12.30pm, the museum will host ‘lights only’ quiet sessions, with lights, sounds and smells in operation during the afternoon.

The National Emergency Services Museum in Sheffield is the world’s largest 999 museum, showcasing our emergency services through hands-on learning with history.

With over 50 vehicles on site from manual and horse power to steam and motor and three floors of exhibits to explore, discover and learn, there really is something for all the family, no matter their age.

Visit www.emergencymuseum.org.uk for more details of upcoming sessions.