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September 5, 2019 | Catharine McCord, Adult Programs Coordinator

Denver Botanic Gardens is excited to announce that our Sensory Processing and Autism Resource Kits (S.P.A.R.K.) are available for use, free of charge, on a first-come, first-served basis! They may be checked out from the Information Desk in the Boettcher Center Lobby at our York Street location. The backpacks were designed and created by the Autism Community Store in partnership with the Autism Society of Colorado.

The packs are a resource for people of all ages with autism or sensory needs, to help them feel safe and supported while exploring the Gardens. Each pack includes a garden-themed Seek & Find Weighted Lap Pad, wiggle seat cushion, noise-reducing headphones, visor, fidget keychains, hand-operated fan, turquoise sunglasses, calming strategies card and an outdoor blanket.

What’s included:

  • Garden-themed Weighted Discovery Lap Pad
    Weighing in at over two pounds, this lap pad does double duty. The therapeutic weight can be calming to the nervous system, helping the user stay seated more comfortably. The lap pad’s garden-theme contents provide tactile and visual stimulation that can offer a calming distraction in a challenging environment.
  • Wiggle Cushion
    “Wiggle seats” can be an effective seating option for people who have a difficult time focusing or staying put in their seats. These helpful self-regulation seating devices provide subtle movement input (gentle bouncing and/or rocking) without getting up from your seat! The calming (or alerting) movement input makes it easier for many children and adults to stay calm and focused.
  • Noise-reducing Headphones
    Noise reduction headphones provide an auditory buffer. They can help people with noise sensitivity explore environments that might otherwise been too uncomfortable for them.
  • Visor
    The visor is a comfortable means of shading the eyes from natural and artificial overhead light while also providing a sense of enclosure and protection.
  • Fidget Toys
    The fidget toys attached to the zipper pulls of the backpack help keep busy fingers engaged. Contrary to what many people believe, fidgeting actually helps sensory seeking people stay calm and focused.
  • Hand-operated Fan
    The fan is manually operated with a crank. It is a fidget toy that will be enjoyed by visitors who like spinning things or a cause-effect toy. The fan also empowers a guest with a cooling tool.
  • Turquoise Glasses
    For some people, colored glasses can be relaxing and may help the brain process the information it sees. Each person has a unique color preference, but turquoise is one of the most popular.
  • Calming Strategies Card
    This card offers opportunities for non-verbal cues.
  • Outdoor Blanket
    The outdoor blanket unfolds to offer a comfortable nest for a visitor who craves a sensory break.

Be sure to check out our sensory friendly events that provide an opportunity to explore the Gardens with fewer visitors and hands-on sensory activities. The low-sensory SPARK! mornings and evenings are offered during the summer and are free with advance registration. Call 720-865-3500 for more information.



This is so needed! Thank you!

This is so needed! Thank you! I can't wait to try it!

Sensory items

I would like to know if I can purchase any of the sensory items. Thank you. Kathy Hoyer

Hi Kathy, thanks for your question

Hi Kathy, thanks for your question. The items in the SPARK backpacks can be purchased at the Autism Community Store: https://www.autismcommunitystore.com/

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