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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Think Differently Day at the Saratoga County Fair

 In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families 

There’s a lot to see and do at the Saratoga County Fair, but that usually comes with big crowds, flashing lights, and lots of noise. For people with epilepsy, migraines, or on the autism spectrum, sensory overload can take away from the fun.

For the fourth time, the fair held Think Differently Day, making small changes to the fair for a few hours so all can enjoy. Patrons who stopped by between 9 a.m. and noon could explore art exhibits, animal exhibits, a horse show, and enjoy snacks. At 11 a.m., the carnival and rides opened early for a sensory-sensitive morning.

“We wanted to create a calmer environment, so that everybody can come enjoy the fair, regardless of your abilities,” said Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh.

Walsh, who has a son on the autism spectrum, pitched the idea for Think Differently Day at the fair.

“People will come into the fair, and they’ll be greeted by the 4-H ambassadors, who will talk to a young person with autism, for example,” Walsh explained. “[They will] find out what they’re interested in: Do they love cows? Do they love horses? Sometimes they have really intense interests, so they’ll take the child over to that area so that they can enjoy the animals.”