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Increasing inclusivity in the Autism community by being sensory friendly

Posted at 4:56 AM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-13 09:26:58-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Like most kids in the summer time five-year-old Jared Salgedo Jr. loves playing in the water and swimming in pools. But on most days a big social event at a public pool might be too overwhelming for little Jared.

Jared has mild autism with a speech delay.

"In social settings he actually deals with aggressive behavior sometimes, but he really likes to parallel play, he likes to copy others, what they do," said Jared's mom Patricia Salgedo. "He actually enjoys being around other kids.”

About one in 44 children is identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder, like Jared. For these kids, social settings can be stressful and difficult to process, which can make early socialization difficult.

“He might like to play with others, but sometimes other people might not want to play with him or the way he plays, so we kinda just plan it with intimate family," Salgedo said.

This is why the Kern Autism Network is providing sensory friendly events for families, like the family swim day at McMurtrey pool.

“Every individual with autism is very different, so you don’t know what those triggers for that individual are going to be," said Director of Kern Autism Network Inc. Ramona Puget.

Events like these don’t have to be the only setting inviting to families of autistic children, though. Puget says anyone can create an inclusive and sensory friendly environment, it just takes a little effort.

“As long as they let the family know how many are in attendance, what kind of food is going to be served, if there’s going to be loud noises, is there any area where the child can go to have a down time if it’s too much stimulation for them. That is all a sensory friendly environment," Puget said.

For Jared’s mom, she’s excited to see sensory friendly events becoming more and more available.

“I think it’s super important, just to even connect with other parents. I think once you get a diagnosis you kinda feel like you’re on an island," Salgedo said. She’d like to see the public become more open to creating inviting environments more children on the spectrum. “When we are in social settings and he’s having a meltdown, maybe just try to be more understanding and helpful."

“Inclusivity is very important, we want them to be included," Puget said.

If you’d like to know more about the Kern Autism Network and get connected, you can find them here.