Skies could not have been more clear for the Family Evening out with Pathfinders for Autism at Ladew Topiary Gardens. Six hundred were invited to picnic, play a few lawn games, listen to a little live night music and tour the twenty-two acres of magnificent gardens. There were even a few princesses wandering the grounds, available to take photos with the families.
Program Director Neal Lichter gave a brief but excellent overview of autism and explained the spectrum of behaviors that can be sometimes seen in those affected. He knows the challenges first hand, as one of his family members is autistic. I appreciated the education.
Behind the protection of the garden gates, families were able to relax and enjoy without some of the stresses of everyday life that often comes with living with a loved one with autism. Even though families were in a more sheltered environment, sensory overload can be still be present in those with autism due to the unfamiliar environment, strange voices, odors, even different sounds and textures found in nature.
Pathfinders for Autism has excellent resources for “customized programming,” support and training. They had much information on hand to educate others about the disorder. Here is a link to their website.
I came away from the evening with a little better insight into ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder, which according to the Center of Disease Control “about 1% of the world’s population has autism spectrum disorder – over 75,000,000 people.” And Pathfinders for Autism is now on a campaign to take it to the road to educate others through their Dip to the Challenge Tour.
There was an additional eye-opener for me at my evening with Pathfinders for Autism. I saw the gardens in a different kind of light than I normally do. I most frequently visit Ladew in the morning. In the evening’s dark shadows the flowers and topiaries seem staged quite differently. And the sweet perfume in a warm evening from a whole field of Joe Pye weed behind the Tivoli Teahouse was almost overwhelming, even to me! ~ authored by Sue Batton Leonard
One of the many valuable sponsors for Pathfinders for Autism is Dunkin Donuts
“America’s Favorite Coffee”
who were on-hand with their mobile unit providing iced coffee and donuts to families and volunteers.