An innovative space for kids with autism and their families opened in Sterling Heights on Aug. 1 – and it’s promising lots of fun and an incredible community.
That’s the vision of founder Shell Jones. As a mother of child with autism, she knows the rewards and challenges firsthand. In Michigan, there are more than 50,000 people with autism, she notes – more than 16,000 of which are school-aged children.
“We have a concentration of about 8,000 of those kids right here in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties,” Jones says. When she noticed a lack of appropriate activities for her child that encompassed the entire family, Jones set out to create a facility to do just that.
Play-Place for Autistic Children is a recreational, educational and therapeutic facility. Splashed with color and tactile touches, this cutting-edge 25,000 square-foot space has a carousel, giant slide, swings – plus a computer café, movie theater, art studio, laser-light chalk room and haircut hut, all specially designed for kids with autism and their siblings, parents and caregivers.
“Every piece of equipment that’s going to be featured in the center has some type of therapeutic or educational element,” Jones said in 2014 when initially planning the center. “We basically provide a judgment-free, non-discouraging, safe place for families to come and enjoy some quality time together.”
It’s open to all ages, cognitive levels and disabilities, the spot’s website notes. Siblings are welcome to join the fun, too! Here, families can find support, events and ultimately, a safe space for their kids.
Play-Place for Autistic Children is located at 41105 Technology Park Drive, Sterling Heights. Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Tuesday and Thursday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and, for members only, noon-4 p.m. Sundays.
The cost is $7/walk-in rate, and covers play equipment, or $99-$150 per month for a memberships, which include additional amenities. Call 586-254-6533 or visit the website and follow them on Facebook for more information.
This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated for 2016.