There is a saying – “If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism.” By definition, Autism is a spectrum disorder that often interferes with a child’s ability to communicate and interact. The question remains, how do we support our children so that they can grow and develop? A good friend of mine, who has a son with autism, told me that one of the answers for her son was learning through play.
Children with autism often experience visual, auditory, and tactile play in different ways. Many children have difficulty processing verbal directions or large group instruction and learn better using their senses of seeing and touching. Many children benefit from sensory-friendly play that involves movement or hands-on learning. It is important that we meet all children in the space in which they learn. Children with autism are smart, vibrant, and creative young people that help us see the world through a different lens.
The open-ended, hands-on approach to learning at DuPage Children’s Museum offers so many opportunities for children with autism to learn and grow. DCM offers a wide range of supports to ensure that children of all abilities can access and enjoy the fun that comes with learning through play at the Museum. The Third Thursday program is a special time at the Museum with extended hours in the evening, at a time where there are less crowds. Subject matter experts including educators and therapists are available to provide resources to parents and caregivers. Visual systems are available at all times for children who benefit from picture prompts or choices. Exhibits are designed and installed to meet the needs of children with physical and developmental disabilities. DCM maintains partnerships with organizations that advise on the needs of children with autism and provide local resources for parents looking for support and services.
Autism Awareness Month is a time to share stories and better understand the challenges that persons (children) with autism face. It’s also a time to celebrate accomplishments and learn about resources and opportunities that are available in the community to help meet the challenges.
We love it when families share their Museum experiences with us! What is your child’s favorite area of the Museum? Do you have any stories about Third Thursday you would like to share? Be sure to use the hashtag #PlayIQwithDCM so I can respond.
We would also love your comments on making the Museum inviting to all children. What does your child like to play with at the Museum? What suggestions do you have to make the Museum more accessible? How can we help make the most of your visit to the DuPage Children’s Museum.