WINTER HAVEN (FOX 13) - No doubt about it, Legoland Florida is full of sights and sounds that would make any little kid’s adrenaline surge. But for children with autism, all the stimulation might be overstimulation.
And when autistic kids get overloaded, they can melt down, according to a dad who knows. David Brady works as a spokesman for Legoland and happens to have an autistic son.
He says tantrums can get pretty bad.
"Sometimes they throw themselves on the ground," he explained.
Legoland just announced what it is doing to help kids with autism and their families get through a day at the park with as much fun and little trauma as possible.
There are four quiet rooms now, tranquil places where kids can go to chill out. In them, you'll find toys that are especially attractive to autistic kids. The rooms also have sensory blankets, which are very heavy.
"It has a grounding effect to it," said Morgan Heath, a Legoland employee. "You put it on, and it grounds you to the earth, and you feel calm afterwards."
The rooms can act as a pressure valve for kids before they act out.
"Instead of going all the way back to your hotel room or all the way back to your car to leave the park, you now have a safe, quiet place in the park where you can take a break," continued Brady.
Legoland also offers hero passes, so families dealing with autism don't have to wait in long ride lines.
You can also get a so-called storyboard at the park, which explains each attraction to parents.
"It helps them understand that there might be water elements or strobe lights, things that might trigger an autism attack," said Autum Bassham, a guest services employee.
The new accommodations come just in time for National Autism Awareness Month. In April, Legoland plans to donate a percentage of its ticket sales to the group Autism Speaks.