My son Patrick is 12 years old and was diagnosed with autism at age 3. For my wife and I, it has been a whirlwind nine years with various doctors, therapists, teachers and specialists. It has been a long journey and we have befriended a lot of autism parents along the way, some of whom have children with severe sensory difficulties.
As a parent I have experienced the numerous challenges families with autistic children face, and watched other families in our community experience them as well. Which is why I am excited to work with the Play for All Playground & Garden Foundation to help build the Sensory Garden Playground and make inclusive, accessible play a reality in the western suburbs.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention puts the latest autism statistics at 1 in 59 children on the spectrum. With these numbers, clearly this project is needed and the time for this project is now.
The Sensory Garden Playground opened in 2015 and includes a 2- to 5-year-old playground, central gathering area, sound and fragrance gardens, as well as the Art Along the Way interactive sculptures. The attention given to the sensory difficulties and needs of those on the spectrum set this park apart and create a model for other communities.