Children with autism will have a wonderful opportunity to experience Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in a way that suits their needs this Saturday, March 5.
Last year, about 200 children and their families attended the Children with Autism event. This year, the aquarium expects more than 600 to attend on Saturday.
Guest check-in will begin for families starting at 8:00 a.m. The aquarium will use classrooms to serve as a “quiet space” for children who may get overstimulated during their visit. There will also be specialized education packets for families to use during their visit.
Ripley’s will also offer an optional Sensory Scavenger Hunt & Photography session for the kids.
Artistic Spectrum is organizing the event. The group specializes in programs for children with varying degrees and functionality of autism. However, they highlight two common traits across the spectrum that can be addressed in such events:
- Sensory processing issues – the need for a calm environment that allows for both sensory stimulation and sensory breaks.
- Fear of the unknown – the need for preparation (to know what is to be expected and what the agenda will be).
Aquariums like Ripley’s provide inherent benefits for people with autism spectrum disorders, including:
- Hands on activities stimulate sensory learning
- Sea life and aquariums in general have a visual calming effect
- Most people with autism love to learn, especially about science and animals
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
88 River Rd