(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
Photo: David Becker
Photo: David Becker

Leave it to Dolly Parton to find a way to better serve autistic children at Dollywood

People with autism are much like us. They want to spend their summer days and nights riding the roller coasters and hanging out with the people they love the most.

Yet, their condition, which is often misunderstood, has kept them from living the life they love until now.

Now people with autism can go into a calming room, where they can sit, relax and calm down from the sometimes paralyzing affects of sensory overload.

“This was a need we identified at both of our parks,” Dollywood director of communications Pete Owens told Rare Country on July 1. “There are about three dozen interactions with families with an autistic family member every operating day in the summer. The leader of our ride accessibility center, Judy Toth, led the charge on this effort. She worked with Autism Speaks to create a state-of-the-art center.”

In a recent interview with WKRN-TV in Nashville, Heather Schuler explained how this calming room will help her son, Hampton, who has autism.

“It might mean nothing to us, but some pitch that he hears that we don’t hear, and it just kind of like makes everything in their brain start spinning for themselves,” Heather said about the need for the calming room in Dollywood, which was the first theme park in the world to have one. “Hampton can take a break inside the calming room and regroup.”

Here’s to a fun day for Hampton and all children who love Dollywood.

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