SPD Foundation Attends First Ever Sensory Friendly Summit Sparking Grassroots Movement to Make Denver the Most Sensory Friendly City in the World

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Imagine not being able to go out with your family to a movie or dinner because one of your family members is intolerant of the venue’s lighting, noises, or may be unable to sit for two hours without disrupting other people. Many families around the world feel isolated because their communities do not offer sensory friendly events, movies, performances, services, or venues.

Left to right: Lisa Rigsby Peterson, Benjamin Endsley Klein, Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, Sarah Metsh, Barb Komdat

The Sensory Friendly Summit speakers answer questions from the audience. Left to right: Lisa Rigsby Peterson, Benjamin Endsley Klein, Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, Sarah Metsh, Barb Komdat

Many families around the world feel isolated because their communities do not offer sensory friendly events, movies, performances, services, or venues.

Imagine not being able to go out with your family to a movie or dinner because one of your family members is intolerant of the venue’s lighting, noises, or may be unable to sit for two hours without disrupting other people. Many families around the world feel isolated because their communities do not offer sensory friendly events, movies, performances, services, or venues. Lisa Rigsby Peterson, Executive Director of Lone Tree Arts Center and Bryce Alexander, Artistic Director at PHAMALY, have spearheaded a grassroots movement for Denver to become the most sensory friendly community. “My hope for this Summit is that people leave here and create sensory friendly businesses and we create a sensory friendly network where Denver is the first community to be sensory friendly. We can create a model from which other cities start their own sensory friendly movement,” says Bryce Alexander.

The first step of this sensory friendly movement was to hold a summit on June 16, 2015 at Lone Tree Arts Center. The Sensory Friendly Summit hosted 50 organizations with 80 participants to learn about creating sensory friendly offerings and environments that will change the landscape for families with sensory sensitive needs. Among the speakers were Benjamin Endsley Klein (Associate Director of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), Dr. Lucy Jane Miller of STAR Center and the national Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation, Sarah Metsh of Autism Society of Colorado, and Barb Komdat of Developmental Pathways also Colorado based. “I started this work in 1972. I felt like a lone wolf out in the wilderness screaming about sensory issues. In joining forces, we have an opportunity to really impact the world, the nation and the state we live in. We can make a difference for children and families,” says Dr. Lucy Miller.

In addition to creating a friendly community, “this also makes good business sense. For every person that sensory friendly programming makes sense there is an extended circle of siblings, parents, friends, caregivers, you name it. Our experience has been that a sensory friendly program might be very specifically tailored for one member of a family that might have six people in it that haven’t been able to have an experience together as a family. It’s great audience development,” says Lisa Rigsby Peterson.

Moving forward Lone Tree Arts Center and PHAMALY will continue to build a sensory friendly network in Denver. In the Fall, STAR Center of Denver and Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation will be launching a Sensory Friendly Certification Program nationwide for businesses and organizations who are joining the movement and launching their own sensory friendly contributions.

About STAR Center:    
The STAR Center Foundation (STAR Center) is a Colorado nonprofit that provides the highest-quality assessment and intervention for children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and their families anywhere in the world. SPD is a neurological condition that disrupts the daily lives of many children, adults and their families. STAR Center’s unique model is centered on arousal regulation, engagement and social relationships, and parent education and coaching.

About SPD Foundation:
The SPD Foundation is a world leader in research, education, and advocacy for Sensory Processing Disorder, a neurological condition that disrupts the daily lives of many children and adults. Originally called the KID Foundation, SPDF has been providing hope and help to individuals and families living with SPD. Our mission To improve the lives of children and adults with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and their families through research, education and increased global awareness. Our Vision: a future in which every child with SPD is identified and treated by age 6.

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