EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)- It was quiet at Mesker Park Zoo Monday, but not too quiet. In fact, that was more or less the point of the ‘Sensory Spooktacular,’ the first iteration of the zoo’s popular Boo at the Zoo designed specifically for people with sensory processing issues- a group that includes, but isn’t limited to, people with ADHD or people on the Autism spectrum.

Zoo official Blake Shockley says the Zoo worked with Autism Evansville to design the event in an effort to be more inclusive in a community where “there’s a lot of people that deal with Autism and sensory overload.” Shockley explains that the loud music and big crowds can be overwhelming so the Spooktacular made efforts to limit ambient noise, like waterfalls and carousel music to make the event more accessible.

Monday’s event meant a lot to families like the Wrights of Ohio County. The Wrights explain their son, Eli, can be bothered by lights and sounds to such an extent that they’ve never actually visited the zoo before, despite Eli’s love of animals.

Joel Wright, who was diagnosed on the Autism spectrum as an adult, says he always knew he was “different” growing up but says he’s happy for himself and his son to know that society is more understanding and cognizant of what Autism means and looks like.

While it remains to be seen what the Spooktacular will look like in 2023, zoo officials say they’re already looking at ways to make the event even better for families like the Wrights.