Autism Month 2024: Be Open to Sensory Safety – Tasmania Leading the Way Ahead of National Reform

Amidst the national conversation about reform to the NDIS and the release of the draft National Autism Strategy, Autism Tasmania is leading the way to neurodiversity inclusion with the launch of our Be Open to Sensory Safety campaign in Autism Month 2024.

Between 69 and 95 percent of the 1 in 70 Australians who are autistic experience atypical sensory processing. Sensory processing differences affect how autistic people process and experience stimuli and sensory input. Inputs that neurotypical people don’t notice, can be overwhelming to autistic people or even cause physical pain.

When Autism Tasmania conducted extensive community engagement as part of the consulting period in 2023 to inform the draft National Autism Strategy (now open for public feedback), sensory safety and community education were prominent themes of concern for autistic Tasmanians. This campaign address both.

Simple ways to accommodate sensory safety include:

  • dimmed lighting
  • lowered noise
  • reduced strong smells
  • uncluttered walkways and clear signage

This campaign is an ongoing call on organisations and businesses in Tasmania to make an effort to be inclusive of our neurodivergent community members and commit to sensory safe hours. As part of this initiative, autistic people can now visit our website and search local sensory safe hours in our public database. An aspirational, first in the nation project we envision becoming vital to autistic Tasmanians.

Despite launching in Autism Month, the call to act is not over when the month is. Accommodating and supporting all neurotypes and disabilities is everyone’s responsibility, and we are excited for Tasmania to lead the way and say, “We’re Open to Sensory Safety.”

“It doesn’t take much to jump on board, it’s so simple to do and affects everyone at once. It’s good to see customers safe, confident, and happy in your space and with accommodations they can feel comfortable straight away.” ~ Shawn, Neurodivergent Business Owner –  Thiccboi Collectables (Ulverstone).

“It’s all about making people comfortable, whatever works – just working with the autistic kids or adults who come in.” Bianca, Business Owner – Mimosa Hair (Berriedale).

Organisations and businesses can visit our website to register their sensory safe hours. Alternatively, they can contact Autism Tasmania to discuss what sensory safe hours look like for their industry and gain advice on how to implement them. Details of community events Autism Tasmania is hosting and attending, stories from participating organisations and autistic community members and educational information will all be shared on our website and social media as part of Autism Month 2024.

At this crucial juncture, Autism Tasmania urges the Federal and State government to continue to consult with autistic people, the autism community and key organisations to inform the steps taken to reform the systems that support autistic people, their carers and families.

Autism Month 2024’s theme “Moving from Surviving to Thriving,” inspires a vision of what the future could look like in a neurodiversity inclusive Australia. The autistic community participated in the National Autism Strategy’s consultation in good faith in 2023 and Autism Tasmania continues to engage the Tasmanian community in the current feedback period.  Proposed changes to the way crucial supports are delivered and an anticipated transition to foundational supports must not leave autistic Tasmanians without vital services.

Autistic Tasmanians deserve to thrive not just survive and the whole community has a part to play in supporting and understanding Autism. Join us in Autism Month and be part of change.

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