Houston Museum of Natural Science makes exhibits more friendly for kids with autism

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Museum of Natural Science is opening up a whole new world for some special kids. The museum is now making all exhibits more autism-friendly and free of sensory triggers.

The plan includes a number of small but critical adjustments at nearly every exhibit.

Museum employee Sahil Patel and his team took it upon themselves to create a sensory guide for parents and their children with autism. The guide is accessible online and at the museum for parents to plan their visits.

Patel said he was inspired to create the accessibility plan by his brother who has autism.

"There were some things that will trigger my brother." said Patel. "Any extreme can be a trigger. It could be extreme brightness. It could be extreme darkness. I definitely wanted him to enjoy as much as I did."

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The accessibility plan has helped hundreds of families enjoy the museum like never before.

"Families living with autism can be very isolating. There's a lot of places you can't go. There's venues that you avoid," said Carolyn Arnim, whose son Asher has autism. "To have something like this adapted for families living with autism is such a gift."

For these families, the museum cancels out the noise. Animals in the exhibit that move and make noise are turned off. In the dark exhibits, the the lights are brighter to keep the kids more focused.

Parents can also check out a backpack filled with fidget items, tinted glasses and even earmuffs. The bag pack was created by Alex Hightower, a member of Boy Scout Troop 609, an all autistic Troop here in Houston. Because of the new accessibility program, hundreds of children with autism and their families have been able to open up a whole new world.

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