PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - On Wednesday, the Oregon Zoo announced that it is now a certified sensory-inclusive facility.
That means it will be a more welcoming place for families who have kids with autism or other sensory-sensitive conditions.
Going out in public can be really overwhelming for families that have sensory needs, so the Oregon Zoo is kicking off an initiative to make sure everyone can come here and have a great time.
So, the next time you visit you’ll see signs in the ticket windows and you can also check out their "sensory inclusive bags" for free during your visit to the zoo.
They come loaded with noise-cancelling headphones, sunglasses, fidget tools, non-verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads.
Staff here are also being trained to recognize guests with sensory needs and to help handle a sensory-overload situation.
It's all a partnership with a nonprofit called "Kulture City" which was founded by a couple who has an autistic child to help make public spaces more aware of the needs of those with sensory-sensitivities and more inclusive for everyone.
And it's not just for people with autism this can help with PTSD dementia and other health conditions that are sometimes considered invisible.
“It can be a challenge to provide support when something you're dealing with can't be seen,” John Krejcha said.
“There are so many people in our society who are essentially isolated because they have a family member or they themselves have sensory issues, sensory sensitivities,” Kulture City board member Kelly Aucoin said.
You can also download the kulturecity app before your visit to the zoo to see what sensory resources are available and check out what's called a "social story" which will give you a preview of what to expect.
This isn't the only place in Portland partnering with this program, the Moda Center is another place where those sensory kits are available.
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