‘It’s so peaceful:’ Downtown Aquarium launches ‘low-sensory mornings’

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DENVER -- The Downtown Aquarium opened more than an hour early on Sunday for quiet time so children and adults with special needs could enjoy the animals and exhibits.

On Sunday the aquarium launched "low-sensory mornings" where they turn down the music and turn up the lights hoping to create a less stimulating environment.

Although many people appreciate the constant sensory impact with the bright fish and ambient noise, some find it overwhelming.

“It definitely can be too intense for some people,” said aquarium education manager Colleen Shipley.

That includes Aidan Paradis, an 11-year-old with autism.

“With all the crowds, he gets overwhelmed with all the activity and the noise level,” his father, Robert, said.

But Sunday morning, Aidan had the exhibit essentially to himself. The aquarium turned on the lights, and turned off the music and ambient noise, creating a "low sensory morning."

“It’s so that people can have an opportunity to experience the exhibits in a quieter and calmer setting,” said Shipley.

The program is designed for adults and children with special needs, allowing for a more peaceful trip to the aquarium. Similar programs are in place at the Denver Art Museum, and even at local movie theaters.

“It’s great,” said Paradis. “We can just sit and enjoy the fish, and he can go up and interact with them. It’s way more relaxing.”

The aquarium says it’s part of an effort to make sure everyone can enjoy the exhibits.

“He’s not tense, we’re not tense. He can really just be a kid, which is great. He doesn’t get that chance very often," said Paradis.

The "low sensory mornings" will happen on the 2nd Sunday of each month, from 8:30 – 9:45 a.m.

Admission costs are the same as a standard ticket, and guests can stay as long as they like.

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