BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Each year, Mississippi Centers for Autism and related Developmental Disabilities hosts an event for families with autistic children to have a day of fun and relaxation.
"My child is somewhat normal here," said Melodie Gunter.
Gunter has an autistic son, and they've attended the swim day event for the past five years.
"Everywhere else we go it seems like people don't understand what's going on when they get overstimulated or something," said Gunter. "But everybody watches over everybody's children everyone is in the same boat and they understand."
This year's day of fun was held at the Biloxi Kroc Center. It is designed not only for the children to interact, but for the parents to find support in the autism community.
"When we first sat down, the lady next to us introduced herself, and she said 'Oh, well, where's your son?' We both looked up and our children were playing together and neither one of us have children that normally if we go to the park would have someone playing with them. They had already reached out, and they were playing with each other," said Gunter.
Dr. Alfred McNair started the center 11 years ago, and over the years decided to create a day dedicated to the families they serve with autistic children.
"We can do it because of the help we have. The IP has been helping us since 2008. This is the eighth event. Sometimes it's at the center at the IP, they close the pool for us, sometimes we have it at E Fitness, and this is the first time we've have it at Kroc Center, which is a fantastic facility and the kids love it," said McNair.
Organizers say the goal of the event is to give the children a chance to interact with other kids like them, and allow the families to get to know one another.
"It just gives our parents too a little bit of a rest because they can also come here and just watch the kids play and have a good time, and also have a good time themselves," said Wayne Williams, who is the clinical director.
For more on the Mississippi Centers for Autism and Related Developmental Disabilities, visit their website here.