The statistics are staggering; one in every 88 children is diagnosed with an autism Spectrum Disorder, according to the CDC. Even more startling are recent reports indicating that these numbers are on the rise. Whether it is a mild or profound diagnosis on the spectrum, more than 2,500 families in DuPage County have a child with autism.
Further research indicates that children with autism can benefit and improve their life and social skills by participating in early intervention activities and playing at local parks or gardens. However, it is often to find many families with children who have autism avoiding these facilities due to limitations in access, lack of amenities to appropriately stimulate their child’s senses, constrained opportunities for side-by-side play, or there is an absence of features such as shade or quiet areas that frequently are needed by children with autism.
In an effort to recognize the growing need to create accessible play for DuPage County children with autism, the Play For All Garden & Playground Foundation was established. The Foundation is represented by an array of accessibility and recreation experts that includes the Wheaton Park District, Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Shane’s Inspiration, Landscape Structures, and Kiwanis Club of Wheaton.
As a primary initiative of the Foundation, the group is committed to developing the Sensory Garden Playground – a free of charge facility that brings together the benefits of gardens and playgrounds with other necessary amenities in a welcoming, accessible, and safe environment where abilities can be developed and an appreciation for each other’s differences are embraced for all children.