My daughter’s smile and enthusiasm brings me great joy. She and her brother shine a light on my purpose. We love SOMA and we feel it is a blessing to be part of a welcoming, kind and thoughtful community. We feel fortunate that people know us well and we have formed many beautiful relationships here. During the course of her life, my daughter has been facing medical challenges and social difficulties that have been a source of misunderstanding and challenged the expectations of those who expect her to meet social norms.
There have been times when there was negativity coming our way – in the stares of people as my child vocalized suddenly, showed her enthusiasm a little too loudly or said something that was hurtful in a moment of difficulty. During social events, kids also struggle to interact with kindness and patience. I often take on the role of mediator or translator during play dates, at the pool or other activities. I have done my best to support my child and help her in these moments, but it can be painful and recently she noticed that a friend does not want her around. In the wake of many of these experiences, I try to think positively – that people just don’t know what they don’t know and I also try to problem-solve to help people understand better. It has been helpful to have the Special Needs PTO Group both for the meetings run by amazing volunteer parents, and in the online group that provides education, resources, and social support.
Our town is full of people who are striving for inclusivity and acceptance of all and to bring our children up in an environment that shines a light on this purpose. I am so excited that our town was receptive to bringing sensory-friendly events to the roster of family programming. These events provide a safe, judgement-free space for families of children with autism and other special needs.
Maplewood is hosting our first Sensory Friendly Movie Event on Monday, February 18th. Missi Mancuso, Community Services Director, Lisa Mainardi, Events Coordinator, and I have been meeting for months to create an inclusive program that brings together families and helps to educate our community. We will be showing two family favorites at 10:00 am and 1:30 pm. There will be free snacks, drinks, and lunch between the movies for the kids in attendance.
Sensory-friendly events provide a safe, supportive environment for families who have children or young adults with special needs. People with autism or sensory sensitivities can enjoy a movie, show, or activity without worrying about following the constraints during a typical event. Moviegoers may vocalize, get out of their seats, or take a break in the sensory-friendly break area.
Some of our accommodations:
- During the movie event there will be lots of seating options – bring a blanket to sit on the floor, sit in seats, or sit at a table.
- The lights will be on during the movies.
- The sound will be at a reasonable volume.
- If anyone needs a break from the main room, the parlor will have an arts and crafts area that will be a quiet spot to take some chill time.
- There will be volunteers to lend a helping hand.
As a part of our community for over a decade, it is my privilege to bring this event to our families. We want EVERYONE to feel welcome to come and enjoy the show. Our community is a place that is working to be more and more supportive of all of the people who live here. This is an excellent opportunity to encourage acceptance and love towards people who are unique and amazing
RSVP for the event on the town’s website or on the Facebook event page https://www.facebook.com/events/231584704449412/?ti=ia.
We would like to thank our partners and supporters who are helping make this event a possibility:
- Maplewood Recreation and Cultural Affairs
- SOMA Film Festival
- St. James Gate
- Village Trattoria
- Able Baker
- Gigi’s Cupcakes
- Palmer’s Sweetery
- Bowtie Cinemas
- SIP in SOMA Podcast
Danielle Perrotta has lived and raised a family in Maplewood for 12 years where she is an educator, mother, and vibrant part of the community. She has been involved in many aspects of SOMA such as politics, the arts, and working with local businesses.
She is the host of the popular podcast, SIP In SOMA, which centers around life, community, and family in and around the area. She works with the Special Education Parent Teacher Organization in the district and is an educational tutor and consultant. You can listen to SIP in SOMA where you listen to your favorite podcasts.