With 1 in 34 kids in New Jersey being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and with two of my four children being stricken with it, it does my heart good to see when public places and events go out of their way to try to help.

You see, when you have a child on the spectrum, bright lights, loud sounds, all kinds of sensory stimuli can trigger them. We autism parents too often avoid social situations being afraid of our special needs kids having a disruptive meltdown. We’re used to it, but we don’t want to interfere with other people’s good time with their own neurotypical kids.

hidesy GettyImages
hidesy GettyImages

Maybe that’s noble or maybe that’s foolish. But we do it too often. So when places and events think about us and our kids it’s a nice thing.

The New Jersey State Fair is doing something Tuesday, August 8 to help.

According to nj.com, on Tuesday from noon until 2 p.m. they’re having a “sensory-friendly” time during which noises and lights will be reduced as much as possible. It’s the second year in a row the New Jersey State Fair is being kind enough to do this. It’s designed to help not only children and adults with autism enjoy the fair but also anyone with other sensory processing disorders.

I applaud them.

The fair is happening now until August 12 at Sussex County Fair Grounds. For more information go to their website. 

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The fair is officially called the New Jersey State Fair/Sussex County Farm and Horse Show and not to be confused with the State Fair Meadowlands that already happened for this year.

You can thank Sussex County Farm and Horse Show Association President Joan Smith for coming up with this idea.

It’s a part of our efforts to be inclusive of all people. We want everyone to have fun,” said Smith. “The idea of people coming to the fair that are going to be upset by some of these things did not sit well with me.

She used to work as a special education teacher so she spent a good deal of time understanding what accommodations to make for kids with autism.


Helen O’Shea, Sussex County’s coordinator for special child health services weighed in,

By making adjustments to such entities as lights, sounds, and smells the comfort level for those with sensory sensitivities are increased. These events will provide an opportunity for social interaction.

Over 100,000 people are expected to visit this year’s across its full nine-day run. A new ride this year, a roller coaster with spinning cars called “Crazy Mouse,” is being introduced.

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