‘Sensory-Friendly’ Morning at Maritime Aquarium on Saturday for Those Kids Who Need It

Photo from the Maritime Aquarium shark tank family 03-31-17

Photo from the Maritime Aquarium

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For some, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is a place with too many stimuli. So on Saturday, April 1, the aquarium is planning a special morning to give guests with sensory-processing differences a fun, comfortable and accepting environment.

During the “Sensory-Friendly Morning,” from 8 a.m. to noon, lights in the aquarium will be lower, and music and other sounds will be turned down or off. The aquarium also will show a specially selected IMAX movie with lower volume and the theater lights less dim.

Photo from the Maritime Aquarium shark tank family 03-31-17

Director of Education Tom Naiman said the aquarium offers occasional “Sensory-Friendly Mornings” to be supportive of children and adults with special needs who may be anxious about visiting.

“We recognize that some elements of our exhibits can present a challenge because the spaces may be seen as too bright or loud or crowded for some people,” Naiman said. “So we offer ‘Sensory-Friendly Mornings’ to make the aquarium more accessible and more enjoyable to them.”

Naiman noted that the first half of the “Sensory-Friendly Morning” — between 8 and 10 a.m. — occurs prior to The Maritime Aquarium’s normal opening time. The advantages of that, he said, are twofold: Aquarium staff can focus on special-needs guests, and special-needs guests averse to crowds will be less likely to encounter them.Touch Tank Maritime Aquarium 03-31-17

All aquarium galleries and exhibits will be open. Plus, aquarium eductors will offer bonus activities.

In the aquarium’s IMAX Theater at 10 a.m., the classic movie “Beavers” will be shown with the volume lowered and the theater lights dimmed less than usual. (One IMAX movie is free with Aquarium admission.)

Harbor Seal Face 03-31-17

Photo from Maritime Aquarium

Harbor seal

Also, a special low-volume seal feeding is planned for 8:30 a.m. Please note that the regular 11:45 a.m. seal feeding will be delayed until noon on April 1.

A “quiet room” will be available for guests that need a space to calm. For families that need to leave within the first 30 minutes of arrival, passes will be available to come back and try again another day.

The Maritime Aquarium’s “Sensory-Friendly Mornings” are offered several times a year, after being designed with input from staff members with special-needs children and siblings, and from Easter Seals of Coastal Fairfield County. Training of aquarium staff and volunteers was conducted by Cooperative Educational Services in Trumbull (CES).

Harbor Seal swimming Maritime Aquarium 03-31-17

Harbor Seal

Normal admission prices apply on “Sensory-Friendly Mornings”: $22.95 for adults; $20.95 for youths (13-17) & seniors (65+); and $15.95 for ages 3-12. Children under 3 are free.

For more details about the popular Connecticut family attraction’s exhibits, IMAX movies and programs this spring, call (203) 852-0700 or go to the Maritime Aquarium website.

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