Tennessee’s famous Dollywood theme park has partnered with Autism Speaks to create the first calming room at a theme park for autistic children who may become over-stimulated.
Many parents whose children deal with sensory issues avoid theme parks because the noise level and crowd can be overwhelming. According to Nashville’s WKRN-TV, Heather Shuler has never been able to take her son Hampton to a theme park until now.
“It might mean nothing to us, but some pitch that he hears that we don’t hear and it just kind of like makes everything in their brain start spinning for themselves,” she told reporters.
The calming room is the first of its kind in any theme park in the world. Sights and sounds in a theme park are exciting for many people, but to many children with autism these stimulants are overwhelming. The calming room provides a quiet place for the child and his or her family to regroup and relax.
Teepees are provided in the room so children can have privacy. Fiber optics help allow them to sit and relax under calming light. Dollywood partnered with Autism Speaks to ensure that they properly constructed the room specifically for children with autism.
“(It) has very sensory friendly objects in it, ones that kids would be using in their therapies for sensory integration,” said Maeghan Pawley with Autism Speaks. This calming room has been a dream come true for many families because it has allowed them to enjoy the theme park with their children.
While Dollywood is the first theme park to implement this solution, Legoland is currently making plans to develop a calming room as well.
Stories like these are heartwarming to us at Gilreath and Associates. We are proud to be associated with a state like Tennessee that is seeking efforts to assist those with special needs.
To read more about other heartwarming community stories in our state, check out the community section of our blog.