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Sensory Museum

Savciuc Madalina, Gavrilă Diana & Marinescu Andreea Irina

When was the last time at the end of a long, tiring day you broke down at a simple external factor? The moment when you knew you had enough and couldn’t wait to retreat into your little, safe space. Autistic people experience this kind of feeling on a daily basis. And this moment of breaking down doesn’t come only from society’s expectations or behavior, from simply having a few bad grades or not getting done that project at work but from almost every external stimulus that they face daily.
“Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses.” Some people might be hypersensitive (over-responsive) to stimuli or hyposensitive (under-responsive). The sensory processing disorder is not considered a stand-alone one and it’s usually coexistent, seen as a symptom, with different disorders as autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, attention deficit disorder, anxiety and so on.
To give a glimpse, an image from an autistic person’s life, let’s do a short exercise. Imagine that you have a ten-minute walk to school. You have your backpack on but it drags you down, hair got caught in your coat’s zipper. As soon as you step outside you can feel the cold wind prickling your skin and the sun shines stronger than yesterday. You take a few steps watching all these cars hurrying, honking, and the neighbor’s dog keeps barking since you got out of the house. An unpleasant smell comes your way; it may be the sewer but the vehicle exhaust doesn’t help either. An ambulance is hurrying to pass by and you can hear fast steps approaching you but don’t know where to look and feel someone slightly bumping into your shoulder. Your breathing becomes heavier, faster and start to think that maybe going to school won’t be a good idea. You can already imagine the children screaming, the neon lights, one of your colleagues loudly chewing gum and that ring alarm that you have to hear every hour.
A few words can’t accurately describe the feelings autistic persons go through and we can’t gather everything that they experience in this museum but we can create the overstimulating environment that our world has created day by day. “One step into my world” is designed to bring awareness of the stimuli that pollute our lives and of the lives that are the most affected by this. This sensory museum should bring to life different scenarios, in a controlled environment, the person visiting always having the choice to go into a “safe space” protected from those stimuli. The museum’s first room will be the child’s room, continuing with the kitchen, the way to school, the school’s environment and ending with using public transport to public spaces and coming back home. A cycle that can create a more precise experience than a few words written in different papers.
This museum’s experience is not supposed to be a comfortable one but a curious, small path in an autistic child’s life. It should bring to people’s attention the sensory pollution that the world is going through in these times and the support that we should give to people who suffer from sensory processing disorder.

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