This article is part of our ongoing Introducing Series where we spotlight the people, projects, and organizations that are working on the forefront of social innovation in Canada. Read more articles from the series.
Think back to before Covid-19. Ever go out to a restaurant for what you thought would be a great night of dinner and conversation, only to be chagrined by the din? Perhaps the crowd, the open kitchen, the exposed brick and ductwork made enjoying chatting with your dinner companions impossible. Think about the simple act of grocery shopping during the pandemic: masks, barriers, symbols to interpret, and maintaining physical distancing. These factors can be overwhelming and exhausting for our senses.
Christel Seeberger knows this. She has spent over 25 years practicing as an occupational therapist, helping children, adults, and seniors who experienced sensory sensitivity and sensory overload. Along the way, she started a private practice, grew the team to become multi-disciplinary and in multiple cities across Canada. Her clients were often people with underlying and hidden disabilities; individuals who simply felt the world was too busy, too noisy, too bright. People with autism, anxiety, concussion, hearing loss, PTSD, or who identify as neurodiverse.
When Christel began to experience sensory sensitivity and sensory overload herself, with adult-onset hearing loss, she realized she had to solve the problem in a different way for this large and growing segment of society. After her house and vehicle, her hearing aids and their accompanying assistive devices are the third most expensive thing she owns. Even with the best possible hearing aids available to, ones that are not affordable to most people, there are still places she will not go, and things she does not do, because she cannot participate.
Christel is now on a mission to make the world more sensory-friendly. After working with individuals for most of her career she is seeking solutions that empower change on a larger scale. In 2018 she left her practice of occupational therapy behind to helm her new company, Sensory Friendly Solutions, to help people, businesses, and organizations find and adopt sensory-friendly solutions. Sensory Friendly Solutions provides a plethora of free resources: a blog, newsletter, eBooks and guides, the first podcast series of its kind about sensory challenges, and most importantly, solutions. The organization collaborates with partners to enable events and locations to become sensory-friendly.
Christel notes that students and interns are a perpetual part of their small but mighty team, honing their skills, and bringing social-change enthusiasm. Sensory Friendly Solutions is on its way to obtaining a B-Corporation Certification, a value-aligned step they are looking forward to achieving (their “north star” is to be the “B-Corp” of global sensory-friendly standard setting!)
Sensory Friendly Solutions just released a mini-documentary, “Too Busy. Too Noisy. Too Bright.” – watch it on their website now.
Christel leaves us with an optimistic message, “Sensory overload is overwhelming, but sensory-friendly solutions can be simple.”
Learn more about Sensory Friendly Solutions!