This Children’s Museum Is Doing Something Huge To Welcome Kids On The Spectrum

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Parents of children with autism know all too well the struggle that can come with going out in public – let alone finding a place to relax and have fun. In Michigan, however, children on the autism spectrum can rest assured that they are always welcome to have a safe and fun experience at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum.

The Autism Alliance of Michigan gave its official Seal of Approval to the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, which is only the second institution in the entire state to earn the distinction. The Autism Alliance presented the Seal of Approval to the GRCM “for their work toward creating a safe and welcoming venue for autism families” after the museum underwent extensive staff training and facility upgrades recently.

“The GRCM has always believed that play is for everyone and everyone should play,” Adrienne Brown-Reasner, Director of Communication & Events, told The Autism Site. She added that the staff at the museum “do all we can to be sure we are providing the environment for kids and their families to feel comfortable enough to enjoy their time here.”

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Maggie Lancaster, Executive Director at the GRCM, spoke at the ceremony. “It has been a decade long journey and are humbled to have someone recognize the hard work that has been put forth by so many staff members, volunteers, board members and community partners at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum,” she said. “A primary goal of the GRCM is being the advocate of play for all. Having partners like the Autism Alliance of Michigan means we can further our mission and provide all families this much needed necessity in a child’s life.”

Tammy Morris, AAoM’s Chief Program Officer, also spoke at the ceremony as she presented the Seal of Approval to the children’s museum. She said, “When our team is able to navigate families and different learners to an inspiring cultural venue like the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, we take pause to celebrate. Our Autism Alliance of Michigan Seal of Approval signifies our confidence in the warm welcomes, thorough staff training, and safe place for autism families to visit, play, and learn.”

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There were around 80 people in attendance for the official Autism Alliance Seal of Approval ceremony at the GRCM, which is located in the center of downtown Grand Rapids, Mich. That included museum staff and board of directors, AAoM staff, representatives for other non-profit organizations, and other area leaders.

The decade-long work at the museum to make it autism friendly has been extensive, to say the least, and nothing short of incredible. The staff members have participated in extensive training through the AAoM and other programs to become more aware of Autism Spectrum Disorder and related special needs, sensory issues, and safety concerns and procedures. That training was completed on the day of the ceremony with AAoM’s Safety Safety Specialist, Sgt. Scott Schuelke, who is retired from the Lansing Police Department with 25 years of law enforcement experience.

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Jacob H. is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who currently resides is West Michigan with his wife. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys writing, photography, mountain climbing, and camping.
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