Lynn Meadows Discovery Center opens to autistic children

Lynn Meadows Discovery Center opens to autistic children

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Lynn Meadows Discovery Center opened its doors for a special event Monday afternoon with low lighting and no music. The sensory friendly day allowed children with autism spectrum disorders and sensory processing differences to learn in a comfortable environment.

Six-year-old Damien isn't distracted by loud sounds, other children and bright lights. Instead he's enjoying himself.

"It's very soothing for him. And its not overstimulating and he needs that," said Terie Trenchard, Damien's grandmother.

That's something organizers at Lynn Meadows Discovery Center for Children in Gulfport are pleased to see.

"We've known a lot of people who have had children on the autism spectrum or have sensory issues and we've had a lot of people request things like this type of opportunity. It's one of things that makes us the best children's museum in Mississippi," said Museum and Education Manager Kathleen Buck.

Trenchard said in a typical public situation, where autism disorders aren't taken into consideration Damien has difficulty dealing with all the stimulation.

"He cries. He gets very, he'll say, 'No.' He'll stop what he's doing and he won't move and it's just very overwhelming," said Trenchard.

But on this day Damien was all smiles quietly finding new toys to feel. His grandma said he got the biggest kick out of touching the large stuffed animals.

In addition to dimming the lights, the center made changes to accommodate Damien by turning off this loud moving train.

"For sensory deprivation or whatever we want to try to keep it as calm as possible so they don't get overstimulated. We want to keep it as calm as possible so they can enjoy being a kid," said Buck.

Trenchard wishes more places made accommodations like Lynn Meadows, which offers plenty for her grandson like art classes and other sensory activities.

"He seems to be enjoying it a great deal. It's quiet, which he likes. And he's really enjoying running around all by himself," said Trenchard.

Lynn Meadows will host another sensory friendly day on Monday, April 3 from 2 pm to 5 pm. Admission will be $3.

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