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Wisconsin's first certified sensory-friendly Airbnb

Posted at 5:55 PM, Jul 30, 2020

WILLIAMS BAY — An Airbnb in Lake Geneva is taking the steps to make it easier for families to vacation with someone on the autism spectrum or has sensory sensitivities.

The Airbnb is the first of its kind in Wisconsin. It is specifically designed to accommodate anyone with sensory sensitivities.

"There is a huge amount of people out there that aren’t - that don’t feel welcome, that don’t feel included, that don’t feel like they can travel," Kimberly Buonavolanto, the director of development at Sensory City, said.

Sensory City is a non-profit that has helped places like Gillette Stadium where the New England Patriots play or a Kalahari Resorts location in Ohio become more accommodating for those with sensory sensitivities.

There are two types of sensory sensitivity according to the organization Autism Speaks: hypo- and hypersensitivity.

Hypersensitivity: "For example, many people on the spectrum are hypersensitive to bright lights or certain light wavelengths (e.g. from fluorescent lights). Many find certain sounds, smells, and tastes overwhelming. Certain types of touch (light or deep) can feel extremely uncomfortable," the organization Autism Speaks wrote on its website.

Hyposensitivity: "A low sensitivity to pain is a classic example. Another is under-responsiveness to the body signals that help control balance and physical coordination. This can result in clumsiness, which has long been associated with autism," Autism Speaks wrote.

The sensory-friendly Airbnb is located at 32 S. Walworth Ave, Williams Bay. It has everything someone would need with sensory sensitivities:

  • fidgets to help expel energy
  • sensory swing to de-escalate someone who is overstimulated
  • weighted blanket and textured eye make to help calm someone down who is feeling overwhelmed
  • sunglasses for light
  • headphones for someone with auditory sensitivities
  • a noise machine and night light
  • muted wall colors with no patterns
  • odorless or naturally scented detergents and soap
  • communication boards non-verbal people can use to describe what they need/want/feel

The widgets, sunglasses, communication boards, and headphones, can all be put into a backpack the Airbnb provides to take on-the-go.

The Airbnb officially opens on Aug. 3, but it is already booked for a few weeks. You can learn more about it by going to the Lake Geneva Airbnb Facebook page or clicking this link.

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