Jefferson Hosts Virtual Sensory-Friendly Zumba
The Jefferson College of Rehab Sciences recently hosted a sensory-friendly Zumba class for the neurodiverse community. Autism Advocacy Group president, Natalie Schiano, coordinated the event in which, 20 participants, ages 8 through 21, and their caregivers, joined occupational therapy doctoral student Lady Rios-Vega in some high-energy dance moves geared for those on the spectrum.
The routines included the use of lights, music and bubbles to stimulate the senses and featured movements to meet the participants’ preferred level of intensity. Through Zoom, participants had the freedom to adjust the volume and brightness of their screens as needed in response to their sensitivities.
“This type of event not only raises autism awareness, but it also allows our student to have an opportunity to serve the community,” says Dr. Roseann Schaaf, director of the Jefferson Autism Center of Excellence. “It is a win-win for everyone, and the Jefferson Autism Center of Excellence is proud to work with the Autism Advocacy Group to help facilitate this type of event.”
The routines featured lights, music and bubbles to stimulate the senses.
Diversity and inclusion always have been important to Rios-Vega, who taught the 30-minute class in both Spanish and English. “Neurodiverse people have various skills like anyone else, and many would like to participate in a variety of leisure activities,” she says.
Rios-Vega believes her training and education at the Jefferson Autism Center of Excellence equipped her with the skills to facilitate participation from the neurodiverse population and those with diverse abilities.
“Using my skills and favorite leisure activity allowed me to develop this unique opportunity to create more inclusive opportunities for leisure,” Rios-Vega says.