Article first published as 2011 Utah Autumn Carnival for Autism on Technorati.
The Utah Autumn Carnival for Autism will be happening this weekend, September 17th from 11 AM to 2 PM at Historic Wheeler Farm. Registration for the event needed to happen by August 25th, but even if you are not registered it is an event of which you should be aware. Why? Because it is specifically for children on the spectrum.
Sahara Cares puts on the carnival every year, and for the now three years we have been attending it has been hosted by Historic Wheeler Farm. The venue is well organized, though there tends to be too much noise for many of the participants. So, if your child is sensitive to loud noises, be prepared with noise-cancelling head gear.
But other than the noise, the carnival is awesome. There are plenty of bounce houses for the kids, giant inflatable slides that my son enjoys the most, and a "train" that the kids can ride. There are plenty of games that focus on sensory stimulation, and my sons both enjoy splashing in the water. The parking is incredibly well organized, or at least has been in the past, making the event a joy to attend, and easy to leave when your child has had enough. There is also a free lunch for registered children and their immediate family members.
There are some potential dangers though. The farm is by a creek, and all water has been running very high this year (thanks to large amounts of snow this last winter, and a late spring). There are also live farm animals and duck ponds that could be problematic. At least, if the carnival was not well staffed with volunteers! That is the most impressive part of the carnival, as children who "run" are quickly searched for and found by scores of staff members. Every game, every ride, every bounce house is staffed with more than one volunteer.
And another great part of the carnival is the presence of the vendors. Autism schools are present every year to talk about how their school programs benefit children on the spectrum. Some are private, some are Charter schools, and both provide great information about their programs. Also on hand are various healthcare representatives. The University of Utah has been there to talk about their music therapy which has seen some success in helping children on the spectrum. Other health professionals have been there in the past as well.
It's a great event for all children, and the fact that it is "Autism-Friendly", even by my own standards, makes it a great event for children on the Spectrum. If you were not able to register this year, look for it next year about this same time. You will be glad you did.