Planning for Sensory Challenges at Concerts

As most of you know by now, I recently attended the Eras Tour Night 2 in Glendale Arizona. It’s not a secret to my clients that I am a huge Swiftie. Attending concerts can be an exciting and memorable experience, but for individuals with sensory challenges, it can be overwhelming and uncomfortable. After a 3.5-hour set (almost 5 hours if you include the opening acts), I was overstimulated and in need of some sensory deprivation. If you’re someone who experiences sensory overload at concerts, it’s essential to take proactive steps to ensure your comfort and enjoyment of the experience. Here are ten tips for managing sensory challenges at concerts:

  1. Research the venue ahead of time. Learn about the seating layout, acoustics, and lighting to identify any potential sensory triggers and plan accordingly. Unless you are attending the first concert, it’s okay to peek at the spoilers to know how to best prepare for the show.
  2. Choose a seat that meets your sensory needs. Consider seats that are further away from the stage or away from any potential effects (lighting, pyrotechnics, etc.).
  3. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Choose clothing that is comfortable and non-restrictive, and shoes that provide adequate support for standing, walking, and dancing.
  4. Bring sensory aids. Noise-canceling headphones or earplugs can help block out overwhelming sounds, while sunglasses or a hat can help reduce bright light sensitivity. If you are also hypersensitive to smells such as perfumes, perhaps bring a mask or handkerchief to cover your nose and mouth when walking through the crowds. My favorite pair of earplugs are the Loop Experience (not sponsored) because they lower the decibels without distorting the sound.
  5. Bring a comfort item. A weighted lap pad, stress ball, or fidget toy can provide comfort and sensory stimulation during the concert. I love carrying a small worry stone as it is discrete and cool-to-touch.
  6. Keeping yourself hydrated and nourished can help maintain your energy levels and keep you feeling comfortable throughout the concert. And remember to take bathroom breaks.
  7. It’s okay to take breaks or leave the concert early. Chances are, you will be able to watch clips of the parts you missed online!
  8. Bring a friend or support person. Consider bringing a friend or family member who understands your sensory needs and can provide support during the concert. Fill them in on your plan.
  9. Practice relaxation techniques. Deep breathing or grounding can help reduce feelings of anxiety or stress and promote a sense of calm.
  10. Advocate for yourself. Don’t be afraid to communicate your needs and concerns to venue staff. Many venues offer accommodations for individuals with sensory challenges, such as designated quiet areas or sensory-friendly seating options. At the State Farm Stadium, I found a sensory room next to Guest Services!

Attending a concert with sensory challenges can be challenging, but with some preparation and planning, it can also be an enjoyable experience. By following these ten tips, you can help ensure that you feel comfortable and supported throughout the concert and focus on enjoying your favorite artist.

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