HomeTop StoriesClearwater Marine Aquarium offers sensory items for children and adults

Clearwater Marine Aquarium offers sensory items for children and adults

CLEARWATER, Fla. (Tampa Bay Now) – The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is taking new steps to ensure children and adults with disabilities can enjoy seeing the animals.

Employees hand out sensory bags with items that people can use to navigate the aquarium

Kids and adults from all over the country flock to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see dolphins and other wildlife.

Now people with autism, ADHD, Down syndrome and more can explore the aquarium a little more easily.

“Sometimes people can have sensory overload so they can be sensitive to the lighting around them, the environment itself, the crowd and the sounds,” says Chelsey Gabrillo of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Aquarium staff hand out bags of sensory items, such as noise-canceling headphones and fidget toys.

“There’s so much going on at once and so many people around, so I think it’s going to be really helpful to have this so they can focus on what they’re looking for,” said parent, Amber Fisher.

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Gabrillo says the bags also contain emotion cards.

“They’ll be able to point to this map and show us how they’re feeling at the time,” she said.

It’s something that Fisher says will make a big difference.

“Not everyone is verbal, so I think it’s great to have something like that so they can state how they’re feeling so they can express it without having to express it verbally,” Fisher said.

Quiet zones are now also designated on each level of the aquarium.

“Give them or the child time to get a sense of calm or be able to manage that feeling of being overwhelmed,” Gabrillo said.

Fisher says she’s glad the aquarium is taking steps to make it inclusive for everyone.

“I think it will allow families who wouldn’t have wanted to come now to be able to come,” Fisher said.

And to make people feel more at ease, they can visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium website and see photos of what to expect before entering the building.

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