I'm not sure how many of you are aware, but April 2 marked World Autism Day and also marked the start of Autism Awareness Month in Australia. April 2 is an extremely significant day for the autism community worldwide - it's an opportunity to recognise all those who are on the spectrum, their abilities, their strengths and their contribution to our community. Even the Sydney Opera House, the Empire State Building, Niagara Falls, 30 Rockefeller Centre and Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil recognise this special day by 'going blue'.
Our special little man's new best friend, great to sit on and go round and round - Image: Elaine de Wet
First and foremost, I know none of my readers will be aware of this, but our special little grandson - the one that we have every week for grandparents day - has been diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). At the age of three and a half, he is extremely verbal, but still not talking; has sensory overload with certain noises and actions i.e. windscreen wipers; and is not too keen on making eye contact with strangers. But underneath this veneer of, what appears to be shyness, is a brain second to none. Our little man is a real whizkid on an I-Pad and is streaks ahead of me when it comes to solving puzzles.
Those squares to the left are wonderful building blocks - Image: Elaine de Wet
"Austistic people are different, not less" as renowned autism spokesperson, Dr Temple Grandin says, "They are capable, when given the chance. Diversity in people and in brains is what makes society flourish."
People with autism don't need to be fixed, they just need to be made aware of, understood, accepted and supported.
Become a pirate in your very own tug boat - Image: Elaine de Wet
Chipmunks Playland and Cafe in Birtinya have opened their doors and their hearts on the first Sunday of EVERY month for a two hour period from 8.00am to 10.00am to welcome special needs children. During this time period, the lights are dimmer, the music is gentler, all adding to the allure of a tranquil outing for parents (and grandparents) of special children.
On Sunday we took our grandson to his first special playdate to Chipmunks Playland and what fun we had! All sorts of treats had been organised:-
So much fun to decorate your own cupcake and then get to eat it - Images: Elaine de Wet
Chipmunk Playland and Cafe in Birtinya's usual opening hours are:
Monday to Saturday 9.00am to 5.00pm and Sunday 10.00am to 4.00pm
General Admission 1 to 2 years from $9.90 3 to 11 years from $12.90 School Day Special
1 - 11 years from $9.90
Parents and grandparents are FREE
The playgrounds are divided up into three main age areas. These areas are: under twos, under fives and five plus. On the first Sunday of every month there are no restrictions, children can wander around and experiment in any of the play areas.
The cafe has an excellent yummy menu with everything from burgers to pizzas to coffee.
Autism is a development disorder that happens to one in ninety children. Chances are, if you or your family haven't personally been affected by someone with autism, you certainly know someone who has. So, let them know about the special opening times at Chipmunk Playland and Cafe in Birtinya on the first Sunday of every month. It's an opportunity for Mum and Dad to relax, enjoy a coffee, meet like-minded parents and let the little ones play in a safe and secure environment.
(Don't forget to bring your own socks - everybody runs around in them).
PS Please contact Chipmunks Playland just prior to first Sunday, every month to confirm the playdate is on!