For some, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is a place with too many stimuli. This Sunday, Sept. 18, the Aquarium is planning a special morning to give guests with sensory-processing differences a fun, comfortable and accepting environment.
From 8 a.m. to noon, lights in the Aquarium will be lower, and music and other sounds will be turned down or off. The Aquarium also will show specially selected IMAX® movies with lower volume and the theater lights less dim.
Tom Naiman, director of education, said the Aquarium created “Sensory-Friendly Mornings” to be supportive of the children and adults with special needs who often visit.
“We recognize that some elements of our exhibits can present a challenge because the spaces may be seen as too bright or loud or crowded for some people,” Naiman said. “So we offer occasional ‘Sensory-Friendly Mornings’ to make the Aquarium more accessible and more enjoyable to them.”
Naiman noted that the first half of “Sensory-Friendly Morning” – between 8 and 10 a.m. – occurs prior to The Maritime Aquarium’s normal opening time. The advantages of that, he said, are twofold: Aquarium staff can focus on special-needs guests, and special-needs guests averse to crowds will be less likely to encounter them.
All Aquarium galleries and exhibits will be open. Plus, Aquarium eductors will offer bonus activities and take-home crafts.
In the Aquarium’s IMAX Theater, special film screenings will be presented with the volume lowered and the theater lights dimmed less than usual. The movies selected for their sensory-friendly content are: “Humpback Whales” at 9 a.m., “Born to Be Wild” at 10 a.m. and “Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean” at 11 a.m. (One IMAX movie is free with Aquarium admission.)
Also, a special low-volume seal feeding is planned for 9:30 a.m. Please note that the regular 11:45 a.m. seal feeding will be delayed until noon on Sept. 18.
A “quiet room” will be available for guests that need a space to calm. For families that need to leave within the first 30 minutes of arrival, passes will be available to come back and try again another day.
Another “Sensory-Friendly Morning” is planned for Nov. 6.
Maritime Aquarium, 10 North Water Street in Norwalk
Sunday, September 18
8am – 12pm

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