DES MOINES, Iowa — Many people love the sights and sounds of the Iowa State Fair but for some, it’s too much to handle. 

“You know, we all process through our senses,” said Dr. Teri Wahlig, CEO of ChildServe. “Light, sound, movement, even the texture of our clothing. Sometimes it’s difficult to process all that input and if it’s overwhelming it can be distressing for the individual.” 

That’s why the fair partnered with ChildServe to create a ‘Sensory Friendly Morning’ where everything is toned down – from the bright lights to the loud music. It’s a game changer for kids like Tatum Haberl, who has autism.

“Social interaction and this kind of stuff is really hard,” his mom, Sarah, explained. “It means so much because I would be scared to take him any other time. We spend most of our time at home where we’re safe and comfortable because I don’t know what he’s going to do, or when he’s going to have a meltdown.”

The experience is also an eye-opening one for families who haven’t experienced Autism or other sensory processing disorders firsthand.

“I think that’s so important,” Lynn Kassel, a mom, said. “It’s so easy to have blind spots if you’re not impacted by something or you’re not experiencing it in your daily life so this raises awareness.”