Sensory-friendly holiday party for families living with autism
OTTAWA -- A special holiday party was held Sunday for children living with autism.
Jake’s House is a charity supporting Canadian families living with autism. It has been a tradition for 15 years in Toronto and two years in Ottawa. More than 500 guests--250 children filled a room at the Infinity Centre.
The holidays can be stressful for families living with autism. Bright lights, loud music, and bustling crowds can be stimulation overload. Many children aren’t able to take part in festivities.
Jake’s House Christmas Party caters to those families. There are less sensory triggers, dimmer lights, and softer music.
Nine year old Jeremy Gorley lives with autism and came with his parents and younger brother William.
Jeremy’s dad Al says, “It's tough to bring Jeremy out sometimes because of the noise to different Christmas party... This really caters to things like that. Less hustle and bustle.”
Mom Anik says “It’s so inclusive... for the families and the kids who don't always get to participate in these types of events.”
Roxanne Shandu brought her son Elia “Because he is autistic he can't go to any parties... But here it’s not to loud he likes to go to bouncy caste. Everyone understands him.”
The charity relies on provincial and federal funding. It has not secured funding to put on the holiday party next year.
MPP Jeremy Roberts won’t commit to new funding, but didn’t rule it out. “I am always looking for opportunities to help people. I have invited jakes house to Toronto to talk about the proposal and talk about what the next steps will be.”
The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services Todd Smith is expected to release details on a new needs-based autism program by April 2020.