Georgia Aquarium to accommodate families on Autism Speaks Day

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Mother of autistic twin boys, Jennifer Schwenker said she's just trying to allow her children to be and do everything that other people get to do.

ATLANTA - The Georgia Aquarium will accommodate families Sunday as they host Autism Speaks Day, according to officials.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Preventions say one in 68 children now suffer from autism. The Georgia Aquarium is making accommodations for them this weekend and families said there’s no better gift.

“I don't think I have to tell you, you can just watch them. It's their favorite place in the world,” said mother Jennifer Schwenker.

Schwenkers’ 11-year-old twin sons, Sam and Ben, are hooked on dolphins. The twins both have autism and are, for the most part, non-verbal.

“To be able to come here, and have a couple hours so they can get up and see and you’re here with people that understand what your are kids doing; two hours of that is just gold,” said Schwenker.

One of the things the aquarium is doing is dimming the lights and cutting the music so children aren’t overstimulated.

“There's so much sensory overload in a place like the Georgia Aquarium,” said Kaitlyn Morris. “We have lights flashing and music and people everywhere and it's just not something a lot of these families can deal with. We want them to be able to experience it just like anyone else.

“We're just trying to allow them to be and do everything that other people get to do,” said Schwenkers.

The aquarium is open to the public Sunday, but events for autistic families will be going on for much of the day, according to aquarium officials. A quiet room will also be available if kids need some down time.


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