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Care to Click: The education blog

Teaching Autistic Children: Museums scaling back their special effects to make it easier for autistic children to learn

helping autistic childrenEducating a child living with autism presents many challenges and the solution some museums have devised for teaching autistic children could represent a big step forward.
Children dealing with some form of autism spectrum disorder can struggle with loud noises, large crowds, bright lights and other forms of sensory overload.
On a normal day the Pacific Life Center in Seattle entertains as it informs, using flashing lights and surprising sounds to add to the experience. One Saturday each month, though, the museum scales back the effects to allow autistic children a more comfortable environment in which to learn.
For two hours on that Saturday the lights are a little dimmer, the noises are softened or removed and the crowds are thinner.
“What we want is to be able to provide our programming, providing these experiences for children who may love them, who may be able to kind of run with them, who may become inspired by that interaction,” Pacific Science Center representative Renee Gervais told NPR.
The Pacific Learning Center isn't alone in adapting its museum to the needs of autistic children. The Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art are among the museums that offer similar programs.
The parents love that their children partake in a new learning experience and the children seem to enjoy, well, being children.
We can't wait until the day science is able to diagnose the cause of autism and then figure out how to prevent it. In the meantime, it's great to see groups making an effort to find new means of educating some of the children who need the most help.
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