How do the sensory aspects of an environment impact autistic people’s experiences of that space?
How can we educate people about sensory processing differences and inspire them to make public places more enabling for autistic people?
These are the questions that our Wellcome Trust funded project Sensory Street aims to answer. In 2021 we ran a series of online focus groups and asked people to answer a range of questions on our social media pages. We also worked with staff at a special school to learn more about how sensory processing difficulties affects their autistic children’s experiences of public spaces.
We are using what we have learnt to create an event in August 2022 which explores how supermarkets can be a challenging place for people with sensory processing differences and what businesses can do to help. Free tickets are available now!
Over 2021 we ran seven online focus groups to explore what autistic people think about public spaces. In these groups we wanted to learn more about the sensory aspects of of places such as supermarkets and what people thought made certain locations more or less enabling than others.
In the first set of focus groups we focused on learning about which locations people find easier or more challenging. Then in the second set of focus groups we asked people to explore the most commonly identified locations in more detail. After the focus groups had finished, we discussed the results we found with a feedback group of autistic people who helped us to refine the themes and ideas we found.
On our social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, we asked people a range of questions about what locations they find easier or more difficult and why. We also asked people to tell us about specific locations that people have reported can be challenging such as supermarkets and healthcare settings.
Learn more about what we found in the ‘our findings‘ pages.
From the 19-20th of August we are holding an event at PEARL in Dagenham. We are working with our partner Sensory Spectacle to design an installation which brings together our findings from our focus groups and social media to create an event, informed by autistic people’s sensory experiences, to show how supermarkets can be disabling sensory environments and aims to highlight ways to make these spaces more enabling for autistic people.
Free tickets are available now at: https://sensorysupermarket.eventbrite.com