Sensory Friendly Environment
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Sensory Friendly Environment

In an effort to make the Fond du Lac County Fair a sensory inclusive event, The Fond du Lac County Fair and SSM Health Treffert Studios are partnering to create a designated area on the fairgrounds to aid individuals and families who need a moment to regroup, as well as several sensory-friendly activities.

The sensory room will be located in the Expo Building with access by First Aid, and available July 18-21.

The sensory room is available for individuals with ASD and related disabilities including learning difficulties, developmental disabilities, or sensory impairments. It provides the ability to utilize the space to de-escalate in a safe environment. Individuals will be able to take a break in a quiet, air-conditioned space that includes a carpeted floor, calming lights, relaxing sounds, and interactive activities.

Patrons should check in at the Sensory Room when arriving at the Fair to gain a lanyard/wristband.The lanyard/wristband will be utilized to identify patrons with sensory issues to fair and carnival staff.

The Sensory Room in the Expo Building will be equipped with helpful tools such as weighted blankets, noise canceling headphones, and quiet activities to aid children and adults who need help processing the sights, smells, noises and crowds at the fair.

The sensory room can accommodate up to 12 guests. Individuals will be able to access the sensory room for that the room can remain available for anybody that needs to take a break and relax before continuing to enjoy their time at the fair.

The sensory room will be available:

  • Thursday, July 18 (Children’s Day): 9 am - 7 pm
  • Friday, July 19: 10 am - 7 pm
  • Saturday, July 20: 8:30 am - Noon
  • Sunday, July 21: 9 am - 3 pm

“Creating a special sensory-friendly environment is important to us,” says Matt Immel, Fond du Lac County Fair treasurer. “We want everyone to be able to experience the fair. Providing a sensory-friendly environment allows families to spend more time together, while enjoying the diverse elements of our fair. We appreciate the support and guidance from SSM Health Treffert Studios team members to guide us through the process.”

In addition, there are several sensory-friendly activities scheduled, including:

  • Thursday, July 18: Kids Coloring Content, Scavenger Hunt, and other events.
  • The carnival will open an hour earlier on Thursday at noon. From noon to 1:00 PM rides will operate with no lights, music, and the carnival area will be kept as quiet as possible.
  • Saturday, July 20: Special Needs Quarter-Mile Run/Walk following Kids Fun Runs
  • Sunday, July 21: Little Britches Animal Show, 10 am; Kindschi Pedal Pull - Kiddie Tractor Pull following Little Britches Animal Show

Those with autism, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other sensory-processing disorders often experience sensory overload, limiting their ability to comfortably participate in crowded social gatherings.

“Sensory sensitivities can affect individuals on various levels,” according to Meg Puddy, SSM Health Community-Based Behavioral Health director. “For some, loud noises may be overwhelming. For others, bright lights might be distressing. People with autism, sensory processing disorder, or anxiety often experience these sensitivities. By recognizing and addressing them, we can create an environment where all attendees feel comfortable and valued.”

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