On October 24 at 10 am, Ida Zelaya, President of Sensory Street, Inc., will be conducting a workshop called Sensory Integration Processing Disorder (SPD): Signs, Symptoms, Strategies at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC specifically geared to parents of children within the sensory range of the autism spectrum. Zelaya is an educator, consultant, and advocate for children with sensory integration challenges and will discuss the challenges that affect the day-to-day activities of some individuals with this disorder. Following the workshop, from 12:30 to 2 pm, attendees will make sensory products using household items that may help manage the effects of the disorder.

It is estimated that between five to 13 % of children entering school have SPD and that three out of the four are boys (Spiral Foundation). Most parents of children with this disorder would not consider taking them to a concert or any other event that would overwhelm their senses and cause confusion or discomfort. Loud noises, distractions, bright lights, and sudden movements can wreak havoc on kids who have trouble processing their environment. And with social norms dictating that children behave and sit still during performance events, this sounds more like a nightmare than a joy to attend.

With the prevalence of the disorder, new performances and events have sprung up to address the need and are directed at making accommodations for these children called "sensory-friendly concerts," and the Gordon Center for the Performing Arts will host a sensory concert on November 3 from 11:15 am to 12 pm with carnival games prior to the show from 10 to 11 am.

Unlike traditional concerts or performances, these shows keep the setting laid-back and comfortable. The lights are kept low and the rows are half-empty to give kids plenty of room to move around. There are none of the typical concert hall rules. Rather, kids are encouraged to clap their hands, sing, yell, dance, run around the room or just sit and listen. The volume will be lower, ear plugs will be available, and an interpreter will be present. Trained staff assists with accommodations.

In addition to these venue accommodations, there are even performers who specialize in meeting the needs of special populations. The Curiosity Crew and Lucy Buckle is one such band. They are an interactive science and music show for all ages. Since launching in 2010 at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, the show has wowed curious kids with great music and amazing science at major festivals and museums throughout the D.C. metro area.

Lucy Buckle is played by singer/songwriter and educator Julie Ann Sgroi, who has been an elementary school teacher for six years. The show features music from Swamp Stomp Boogie, which highlights discoveries kids can make at the zoo and inspires kids to ask questions. In addition to live music, Lucy performs experiments to inspire and amaze kids, often inviting friends on stage to help. The combination of music with science is magic.

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