A new initiative aimed at calming sound-sensitive children has been launched at a leading North East shopping centre.
For children with conditions such as ADHD and autism, a trip to the shops can result in sensory overload and be an overwhelming and often distressing experience.
So, Sunderland’s the Bridges has created special sensory bags – filled with carefully chosen items designed to distract and calm them.
Noises can be blocked out entirely with a set of headmuffs, while coloured wristbands, bean bags and relaxation aids provide a safe and suitable focus for youngsters.
And it is hoped that by helping sensitive youngsters feel more comfortable during their visit, the bags will also make a trip to the Bridges more pleasurable for their parents.
“Sound sensitivity can be the result of a number of conditions,” said centre director Karen Eve, “but children with autism, in particular, can find shopping incredibly stressful.
“There is simply too much happening for them to take in – too many people, too much noise and too much to see – and it’s distressing for them and, consequently, for their parents and guardians.
“We have chosen items for the bags which we believe will be really helpful There are different textures and fabrics and each item is tactile and suitable for children of all ages.
“There are rubber toys for infants and also flash cards for school age children to really help focus their attention, while being fun and educational at the same time.”
The bags can be rented from the customer service desk for £10, which is refunded on their return and each bag and its contents is thoroughly cleaned between use.
For more information visit www.thebridges-shopping.com