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Sensory Friendly Initiative

Anova Mary's Pizza Shack Steele  and Hops Sensory Friendly Partnership

Anova, Mary's Pizza Shack and Steele & Hops have teamed up to help bring stress-free dining experiences to families living with autism and sensory processing disorders.


In recognition of Autism Awareness Month 2016, Anova and Mary's Pizza Shack have partnered to launch an innovative pilot program to provide “Sensory Friendly Kits” for individuals with autism and other sensory needs to experience dining out without feeling overwhelmed by their surroundings. Mary’s Pizza Shack is proud to be the first restaurant to join Anova on this important initiative. The Sensory Friendly Kits are available at all eleven of their Sonoma County locations in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Windsor, Sebastopol, Sonoma, Cloverdale, and Boyes Hot Springs. We are happy to announce that a new Santa Rosa eatery, Steele & Hops, has recently joined our initiative and Mary's Pizza Shack expanded the program to their Novato and Napa locations.

Sensory sensitivity is a sign of autism and can affect every aspect of a person’s life...including the ability to eat at a restaurant. With the rate of autism rising and currently affecting 1 in 68 children (I in 42 boys), this initiative not only encourages inclusion in our community, it provides families with a place where they can enjoy a meal out knowing they have access to tools to aid in processing sensory stimuli. The kits will be available upon request and free to use while dining, and include noise reduction ear muffs, a 3lb weighted lap pad, mini zone chart, and several different sensory toys to help promote a more calming environment.

Andrew Bailey, Co-founder of Anova said, “For Autism Awareness Month, we wanted to do something that would not only bring awareness, but help make a positive impact in our community. As a non-profit service provider of education and therapy to hundreds of children with autism, we witness so many families choosing not to dine out or enjoy many activities because of the overwhelming challenges involved. We want to turn that around by equipping restaurants such as Mary's Pizza Shack with tools that will help create a stress-free dining environment for those families in need. Mary's is the perfect partner to team with in developing this program. They are the quintessential family friendly restaurant and champions in our community.”

Stefanie Bagala of Mary's Pizza Shack also commented, “At Mary’s Pizza Shack, we are committed to providing an enjoyable and fun dining experience for all families. It’s important to us that our guests with autism and sensory sensitivities know they have a place where they can enjoy delicious food yet also feel comfortable. We are beyond thrilled to be able to partner with an excellent organization such as Anova.”

Anova and Mary’s Pizza Shack are committed to working together with the help of feedback from customers to improve the Sensory Friendly Kits and expand it to other counties and businesses. They invite families living with autism and sensory processing disorders to please come in and try the kits, and help contribute to developing this important initiative within our community and beyond. If you have questions, or are a restaurant or business interested in becoming sensory friendly, please contact Jackie Hadley at 707-527-7032 or jhadley@anovaeducation.org.

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