Having a toolkit of resources to support my child while we are out in the community has been a lifesaver for both me and my son.
Sensory Backpack Program:
Children and Youth who live with Sensory Processing Disabilities often do not have the ability to filter our external stimuli (such as loud sounds; bright lights) making outings difficult for both them and their families. Because of this, children who live with these types of disabilities (i.e. autism) often have “smaller worlds” and do not get to do or experience the same things as many of their peers.
In order to support children who may experience sensory overload, Variety – the Children’s Charity has created Sensory Backpacks filled with resources for self regulation, tactile input, attention focusing tools, and body awareness support items.
Our goal with these are to:
- Help manage the sensory bombardment children experience when going on outings.
- Help reduce the stress of parents knowing they will have support where they are going.
- Help the child focus on parental cues with having excessive stimuli reduced.
- Help reduce the frequency and intensity of behaviours that are often triggered by sensory overload (i.e. arm flapping; yelling; laying on the ground kicking; throwing things etc.).
- Help make outings more enjoyable and positive for both the child and their family.
- Increase the likelihood of the child and family participating in more outings from daily routines to fun activities.
Variety launched our sensory backpack program in stores and child friendly facilities in November 2020.
These backpacks are available free of charge for sign out in specific locations around our province.
We piloted this at Telus Spark and Blush Lanes (Marda Loop location in Calgary) beginning November 18, 2020 and are now expanding across our province.
We will be rolling this out to grocery stores within Alberta and Saskatchewan in the new year 2021 and will list participating stores on our website for families to reference for their support needs: