In a special guest blog written for AIM, Claire Madge, shares three low cost things you can do to make your museum autism friendly and welcome autistic visitors and their families and carers into your museum. We’d like to hear about what you already do – please leave a comment.
I am Claire Madge, a museum volunteer and blogger. I am passionate about encouraging museums to be more autism friendly you can read more on why it is so important to me on my blog Http://tinctureofmuseum.wordpress.com Or say hello on Twitter @TinctureOfMuse
How do you welcome autism into your museum?
I am a museum volunteer and I have three children, the eldest is 10 years old and she has Aspergers, a form of autism. We love museums but often we avoid them, the barriers loom large. Museums can do more and they need to do more to welcome autism into the museum.
The most common barriers to visiting a museum are unfamiliar environment, lots of people and sensory overload often to lights or sound.
This blog is 3 things you can do to make your museum more autism friendly. You don’t need money and resources to implement these things, just a little time and effort.
It is not always about implementing a specific programme for autistic visitors, often small changes can make a big difference.
1 – Awareness and understanding.
If you understand what autism is, and you are aware of the problems autistic visitors face, then that is a big step in the right direction. Autism is a lifelong developmental disability, it affects the way a person communicates and reacts to other people. It is a spectrum condition and affects people in very different ways. Please visit the National Autistic Society website and share it with your staff and volunteers.
2 – Someone to talk to.
Do you have a point of contact on your website? A friendly voice that can answer specific queries, so carers, autistic visitors and families can prepare for any potential areas of difficulty.
3 – A visual guide.
This is so important. This is not about a map, but a visual story to help autistic visitors prepare for their visit. It needs to include things like the lifts, toilets, café. What does the entrance look like? The galleries? What does the staff uniform look like?
Metropolitan Museum of Art – social narrative – http://www.metmuseum.org/events/programs/programs-for-visitors-with-disabilities/visitors-with-developmental-and-learning-disabilities/~/media/Files/Visit/socialnarrativechildren.pdf
Eureka! The National Children’s Museum Story – https://www.eureka.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/The-Eureka-Story.pdf
Welcoming autism into your museum is not about changing the galleries or running expensive specialist events, it’s about understanding the barriers that autism can cause and how to help your visitors over come them.
Seeing my children inspired by visiting museums is why we can never let autism prevent families taking a trip to the museum.
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