SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A popular immersive art exhibit that is usually closed to the public on Tuesdays, opened up on its day off with some changes to the atmosphere, geared toward guests with sensory sensitivities, including those with autism.
One of the ways autism manifests itself is a sensitivity to loud or sudden noises, bright or flashing lights, and other intense sensory input. Those on the autism spectrum aren’t the only ones who may have a sensitivity to noise and light, as individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), ADHD/ADD, Down syndrome, and those who have suffered head injuries are also often affected.
Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience in Schenectady tweaked the multi-room exhibit at the Armory Studios by reducing noise, eliminating flashing lights, and setting up benches where visitors can take a break from the experience if needed.
“Post-pandemic, a lot of agencies and facilities are doing sensory times and sensory days, which is a really nice way we can be here as a family,” said Christina Rees, who was visiting with her son Oliver and daughter Maggie. “It’s not just for one or the other child. We can kind of do something, all together, and everybody can be comfortable and relaxed and have that experience,” she added.
The latest report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control showed that about 1 in 44 children in the US are now diagnosed with autism, up from 1 in 68 in 2012 and the numbers have doubled in less than 20 years.
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, whose son Michael was born with autism, is an advocate for more events like this in the community.
“I chair a subcommittee for autism spectrum disorders at the state Capitol, and not only do we do legislation and funding, we also partner with our community to create more events like this for everyone to be able to enjoy,” Santabarbara said.
Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience in Schenectady runs through May, and you can buy tickets in advance online.