Volunteer Al Olsen describes their first experience attending one of the Alberta Aviation Museum’s Sensory Nights back in July.
The Alberta Aviation Museum has had cool backpacks for individuals who have sensory issues since before I started volunteering. These include noise-cancelling headphones, sunglasses, a notebook, fidget toys, a puzzle, and building pieces. Recently, the museum decided to step it up and host a “Sensory Night”. It was well received. In addition to these amazing backpacks, the content was also available separately at the front desk.
The night included multiple activity spots, the lights were dimmed slightly (but not enough that people couldn’t see the exhibits), and the sounds were turned off or had warning signs. It felt more relaxed. Kids could go through the museum at their own pace, whether that was super fast, or slowly looking at everything. There was also a dedicated craft station at the back of the hangar with pictures to colour and paper aircrafts to construct.
The museum staff were also trained to serve neurodiverse customers. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and almost all wanted a neurodiverse-friendly open-cockpit night. For now, the museum will host “Sensory Nights” once a month.
Museum Sensory Nights typically occur on the 3rd Thursday of every month. The museum is partnering with Autism Edmonton to host a Neurodiverse Maker’s Market on a special Sensory Night on December 15, 2022.