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Imagine that you’re 10-years-old, and you are the biggest Avengers fan of all time. Or, you’ve just discovered the wonderous world of Harry Potter -- and you’re positive you’re a Gryffindor. Or maybe you have every Pokemon card ever printed, times two.
You hear about an event happening nearby -- one that celebrates all of your super passions. How exciting! It’s a comic convention, and it’s in a huge center, filled with people of all ages dressed in costume; there’s loud music and colorful scenery; there are exhibitions and crowds and lots of action.
Now, imagine being that same kid, but having sensory needs.
That amazing experience? It’s suddenly scary and overwhelming. The lights are too bright; the music too powerful; the crowds too dense. The excitement and fun that you feel about your interests are overcome by the intensity of it all. You can’t enjoy yourself, even though the event includes everything you love.
Well, have no fear -- The Quaker School at Horsham is here to save the day.
This year, TQS hosted its first-ever Comic Con: a free event for kids of all ages, celebrating adventure characters in a sensory-friendly environment.
The idea originated when Natalia Armoza, the wife of TQS Head of School Alex Brosowsky, attended the New York City Comic Con with her son and realized how overwhelming the experience would be for children with sensory needs.
The TQS team then came together to brainstorm ways to recreate the excitement of such an event, but maintain a safe and supportive environment for children with complex challenges, such as autism or ADHD.
The resulting idea: to create a sensory-friendly Comic Con.
The sensory-friendly school became a mini convention center, and all of our favorite adventure characters came to play. Harry Potter, Marvel, DC Comics, Dr. Who, Pokemon, Star Wars … each classroom had a character theme with associated structured activities for kids.
Attendees could browse the rooms and take part in computer activities, coloring, board games, puzzles and hands-on, themed crafts. The building was quiet (there was no loud music) and there was lots of character memorabilia on display. Kids dressed in their favorite costumes, and there was even a superhero parade!
In addition to the themed rooms, there was also a sensory-break room for students who needed to step away from the fun for a calming moment.
The idea, and the event, was a super success. In all, 118 people attended -- half of which were part of the TQS community and half were people from the surrounding area. (The event caught on quickly on Facebook, thanks in part to our Comic Con poster, which was shared more than 200 times!)
As families left the event, parents thanked the TQS staff for creating such a fun yet safe space for children to be their super selves. All of us -- staff, students and parents alike -- are already counting down to next year’s event!
Want to ensure you don’t miss the next Sensory-Friendly Comic Con -- or any of our other free community events? Follow TQS on Facebook, or subscribe using the form in the right sidebar on this page.