The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) has partnered with Autism Alliance to make Weir River Farm in Hingham an Autism Welcoming and sensory responsive business to better serve individuals with autism and their families and caregivers.
Just in time for Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and Autism Awareness Month (April), the staff at 75-acre Weir River Farm has been trained by Autism Alliance (a program of Advocates) to provide simple yet impactful accommodations and Autism Welcoming options, which help families with autism have a better experience while hiking the trails and visiting the barnyard.
“Making our special places accessible and welcoming to everyone is one of our pillars and at the heart of our mission,” said Anne Smith-White, Trustees Director of South Shore, South Coast, and Cape Cod properties. “This training and designation from Autism Alliance is vital because it lets families with autism know they’re coming to a property that understands and makes space for them and their loved ones.”
As a sensory responsive property, Weir River Farm now offers calm kits with noise reducing headphones as well as visual story guides that can be viewed online before the trip to give people with autism a preview of what to expect at the farm. Some programs will now see limited admission at certain times to reduce crowds and noise.
“The partnership between the Autism Alliance and local businesses increases quality of life for family caregivers and their loves ones with autism, and creates a welcoming, inclusive community for all,” says Jeffrey Keilson, Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning at Advocates.
The first event to include such accommodations at Weir River Farm is the Sensory-Friendly Open Barnyard on April 16. Individuals with autism and their families can come for a special hour from 1-2PM during which time admission will be limited to 20 people and closed to the general public. Families will have an opportunity to experience life on a real working farm, meet ponies, llamas, and a pot-bellied pig, and enjoy a StoryWalk in the fields. An online social story guide will be available beforehand and special sensory kits that include noise-reducing headphones will be available from the staff in the barnyard.
The Trustees is also designating the first hour of its April 25th Weir River Farm Spring Festival as a sensory-friendly event, with a
Weir River Farm is the first Trustees property to receive this designation and will serve as a pilot program that will likely be replicated across more of its 123 properties across the Commonwealth.
For information about Weir River Farm, visit thetrustees.org/place/weir-river-farm/, where tickets to the Sensory-Friendly Open Barnyard event can also be purchased.
About the Autism Alliance
The Autism Alliance is a program of Advocates offering events, support, and resources for individuals with autism and their families. The Autism Alliance helps thousands of families and specialists – a community of people sharing information and experiences and offering support in a variety of ways. To learn more about the Autism Alliance or to make a donation, please visit AutismAlliance.org.
Advocates provides a broad range of services for people facing life challenges such as addiction, aging, autism, brain injury, intellectual disabilities, and mental health conditions. With Advocates’ help, thousands of individuals and families living in Massachusetts are finding the supports they need to lead healthy, productive, and rewarding lives. For more information about Advocates, please visit Advocates.org.
About The Trustees
Founded by landscape architect Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees has, for more than 130 years, been a catalyst for important ideas, endeavors, and progress in Massachusetts. As a steward of distinctive and dynamic places of both historic and cultural value, The Trustees is the nation’s first preservation and conservation organization, and its landscapes and landmarks continue to inspire discussion, innovation, and action today as they did in the past. We are a nonprofit, supported by members, friends and donors and our 123 sites are destinations for residents, members, and visitors alike, welcoming millions of guests annually. thetrustees.org.