A study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2014 showed that the prevalence of autism in the US has increased to 1 in 68 children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As awareness of autism and the needs of the ASD community grows among the general population, a number of companies and public facilities have recently established initiatives to address these needs.
As we expect this trend to grow in the future, this 3-part series highlights some of the current programs and initiatives from around the country that were created to help improve the lives of autistic children, their families, and other people with disabilities. In Part 2 of the series, we take a look at facilities and programs designed to give autistic children a safe environment to have fun, get some exercise, and socialize with others.
Play Spaces Designed with Autistic Children in Mind
According to an article posted by WKBW Buffalo (ABC), “One mother wanted her son who has Autism to be able to play safely in a space like other kids. So she decided to build a gym with special sensory equipment for special needs children.
The gym in Iowa includes a zipline, a trampoline, hammock swings, and tunnels. It looks like a fun and free space to just be a kid, but it was built on the foundation that kids who live with special needs can have a safe and fun place to play…
Employees feel everyone can get something out of this inclusive gym. Even though it was created with one boy in mind, it’s open to all kids.”
Other gym and play facilities around the country that are designed for autistic children include:
- Play-Place for Autistic Children in Sterling Heights, MI – Play-Place’s mission is to provide a fun-filled, judgment-free, haven of hope for families affected by autism and other special needs.
- The Bubble Tree in Palm Beach Gardens, FL is a FREE center entirely dedicated to children with special needs and their families.
- We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym in Tarzana, CA offers play options for children of all abilities, but specializes as a center for autism. Their unique play equipment helps all children develop their motor and sensory skills, especially children with an ASD. The Kid’s Gym is equipped with a plethora of equipment for children to enjoy including tunnels, zip lines, crash mats, trampolines, sensory-based toys, arts and crafts, and much more.
- In July, 2016, a branch of We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym opened in Greenwood, IN. According to an article posted by WXIN, FOX 59 in Indianapolis, items in the gym are tailor-made for children with sensory processing issues. A zip line helps with upper arm strength, while a crash pad provides a soft place to land; swings are designed to comfort and cradle children. The gym also has a calming room, a place where children can relax if they’ve had too much.
Click here for information about other We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym locations.
- Dream Big Children’s Center in Monrovia, CA offers a 4000 square foot playground where children can roam, pretend, dress-up, climb, jump and play however their imagination leads them. Dream Big provides Autism Treatment services based on the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), the most well researched, effective, evidence based treatment for individuals with autism.
- Sensations Therafun in Atlanta, GA is an exciting, safe alternative to ‘typical’ playgrounds. It is designed especially for sensory recreation. It is great for kids who have Autism, are on the Autism Spectrum, have Sensory Processing Disorders, ADHD, Down’s Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome and all children who need sensory recreation.