Opportunities for All
Honeywell Offers Sensory-Friendly Programming
Much about the Honeywell Foundation has changed over the past 78 years, but there are still key components that have endured the decades. From one property to six. From a few programs to dozens. Our mission of providing artistic, social, cultural and recreational opportunities for all remains strong in 2020 (learn about our work during the pandemic here).
We do this not only through concerts and shows at the Honeywell Center, but also through our Educational Outreach Program serving children in the classroom, our Senior Outreach Program serving adults in assisted living facilities, and diverse programming at each of our six venues.
Indeed, the Honeywell Foundation’s mission to offer these kinds of opportunities to all truly means all, including those in the U.S. population who can sometimes be overlooked.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 59 children in 2018 was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, which is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as “a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior.” There are many great organizations dedicated to enriching the lives of these individuals, which aligns well with the Honeywell Foundation’s mission to bring joy and enrichment to all through the arts.
One of those organizations is the AWS Foundation based out of Fort Wayne. Their mission states, “Together with like-minded community partners, we help children and adults with enduring intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities live as independently as possible, be included in the community and function at their highest potential.”
In August of 2018, we announced our collaboration with the AWS Foundation by providing sensory friendly kits at events for individuals of all ages with sensory needs. Offered at both the Honeywell Center and Eagles Theatre, these kits are designed to support individuals and families when attending events where loud noises, bright lights and unfamiliar surroundings can make it difficult to enjoy the experience.
Sensory friendly kits include noise-reducing headphones, a weight comfort item to lay on the user’s neck and shoulders, communication cards for those who are nonverbal, an ID wristband to write their name and their parent/guardian’s contact information in case of wandering, fidget toys, and antibacterial wipes to clean items before and after use. They are available for checkout at the Box Office and must be returned at the end of the event.
The kits have been well received by Honeywell guests, one of whom is Karlie Rose, a 26-year-old woman from Fishers who has nonverbal autism. Rose visited the Honeywell Center for the first time last December to attend a Mannheim Steamroller concert with her grandparents, Pamela and Mike Dempsey.
“She loves Mannheim Steamroller,” Pamela Dempsey said. “When I take her to Logansport, I have Mannheim Steamroller in my CD player in my car and we listen to it all the way there. I tell her, ‘Turn the CD player on. Push 1.’ And she’s rocking and rolling. She loves Mannheim Steamroller.”
Pamela said that earlier last year, she saw that Mannheim Steamroller was going to perform in Indianapolis, but the 7:30 p.m. performance time wasn’t conducive for Rose’s attendance.
“I saw that (the Honeywell Center) was going to have one at 3 p.m., which is better for her,” said Pamela. “So, we bought tickets and I got to tell you, the Honeywell Center’s people are wonderful because I explained to the (usher) that I bought the tickets online. I explained that my granddaughter has nonverbal autism and when she gets excited, she lets out a ‘war whoop.’ It’s the best way to describe it.
“And she said, ‘We have sensory kits. Stop by and we will give you one for that night.’ So my husband went and got it and we looked through it and saw everything. When we got to our seats, we told the people behind us - and everyone was so sweet - that Karlie has nonverbal autism and if she starts to rock back and forth in her seat or if she lets out a war whoop, she’s really enjoying the music. They said, ‘She’s fine.’
“So we were sitting there, and about 10 minutes into it she let out a war whoop, so one lady came up to us and asked if she’s alright. I said, ‘That’s just Karlie,’ and I told them that she has autism when we were coming through. We put the weighted neck piece on her and she was perfect the rest of the night. She adjusted it to make sure that they were even on both sides. She was perfect. We got up at intermission to go to the bathroom and she wore it there. She was perfect with it. It was absolutely perfect.”
Pamela said that December’s concert was the first time she and her husband had taken their granddaughter out for a performance like this.
“I would not hesitate to take Karlie to another performance (at the Honeywell Center) with the sensory kit that you have,” she said, adding that she was appreciative of the welcoming nature of the Foundation’s staff and volunteer ushers.
“What I got most out of it is that everyone that we talked to and came into contact with with (the Honeywell Foundation) was so kind, so loving, so compassionate. I mean, they said, ‘Anything you need, anything, you let us know. We’re here for you.’
"My husband and I were just overwhelmed because a lot of times when you go somewhere, it’s not like that. It’s a mixture of response. When Karlie lets out a war whoop, we’re never sure when it’s going to come. You either get stares or dirty looks or ‘What’s going on?’ Well, she has autism. She’s nonverbal. I used to take offense of it, but I think some people just don’t know because they haven’t been around people with autism.”
Shortly after their trip to the Honeywell Center, the Foundation received a philanthropic donation from the Dempsey family.
And that is but one story of how the Honeywell Foundation serves the entire community, offering artistic, social, cultural and recreation opportunities for all.
In addition to offering sensory friendly kits, the Honeywell Foundation has also collaborated with AWS to make the newly-renovated Eagles Theatre facilities and programming sensory friendly. The Ferguson Theatre on the lower level offers entertainment experiences with added lighting and reduced volume. The first floor restrooms are handicapable thanks to a grant provided by the AWS Foundation.
Questions regarding sensory friendly accommodations?
Call us before your next visit: (260) 563-1102