Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium’s first-ever sensory-friendly fireworks

Published: July 3, 2022 6:10 PM EDT
Updated: July 3, 2022 7:04 PM EDT

A local fireworks show that’s just right for those who prefer the lights without the boom.

The sensory overload can be too much for people on the autism spectrum to handle.

The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium hosted its first-ever sensory-friendly fireworks show, created for people on the Autism spectrum, and with PTSD.

Connie Bennett-Martin is board president of the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium.

“It was the most wonderful thing because I started hearing a few of the kids with the little oohs and ahhs,” Bennett-Martin said.

WINK News asked her how the idea for this show came about.

“There was a gentleman who came in about a month ago. And he was asking if there were any programs for his son that had autism,” Bennett-Martin said.

She and the planetarium director got together and created an entire fireworks show.

The indoor display featured graphics in the planetarium dome, accompanied by soft, piano, and patriotic music.

Amanda Serrago brought her son Greg.

“He was diagnosed when he was two years old and it’s been very difficult since there’s not really enough places to bring him,” Serrago said.

She agrees with events like this, bringing awareness to the autistic community.

“This is definitely a great place to bring your children, for them to just be themselves,” Serrago said.

Zan Jabara enjoyed the show with her 15-month-old son.

“His first planetarium show ever, so it’s really exciting to get to check that off the list,” Jabara said.

Jabara said she thinks it’s great that they’re putting this on for all children, regardless if they’re on the spectrum or not.

It’s all part of creating a safe, inclusive space.

“If we’re going to do stuff for ourselves, the very least we can do is make sure that we’re including everyone else in the fun,” Bennett-Martin said.

Sensory Sundays will take place on the first Sunday of each month and are hosted in partnership with autism services of Florida.

The sensory-friendly shows are for guests with autism, sensory sensitivities, or young children.

But everyone is welcome, even if you don’t have sensory needs.

For more information, visit www.calusanature.org.