A weekend event is planned in recognition of April as National Autism Awareness Month.
Hosted by the Lee County School District's Exceptional Student Education Department and Family Initiative Inc., a Cape Coral-based not-for-profit organization, Autism Acceptance Day will take place on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at Christ Community Church in Fort Myers. It is open to the public.
Chuck Bradley, director of the district's ESE Department, explained that Family Initiative organizes activities nearly every Saturday at the church for local families who have children with autism.
The district decided to partner with the group to mark National Autism Awareness Month.
"It was an outlet for us to do something for our community, for our families," he said.
This weekend's event will offer more activities than a typical Saturday.
"It'll be a little bit larger than normal," Bradley said.
There will be games, like lawn bowling, as well as obstacle courses, ball games and more.
"Most of the activities are geared for students with autism," he said.
There will also be arts and crafts for the children to do.
"It's all free," Bradley said.
Attendees can even enjoy a bounce house and face painting.
"There'll be some quiet spaces," he said.
Bradley explained that for children with autism, all the activities can be a sensory overload.
"Sometimes they need to pull away and have that quiet space to decompress," he said.
Refreshments will be available from Kona Ice.
"Generally, it's just a good day of fun," Bradley said.
Organizers are hoping for a good turnout.
"We're hoping that we'll have somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 to 400," he said.
District officials would like to see the event held every year.
"We really want to make this an annual event," Bradley said.
"We hope to build this partnership with other groups in the future," he added.
For more information about Autism Acceptance Day or about Family Initiative Inc., visit: www.fi-florida.org/ or Facebook at: m.facebook.com/FamilyInitiative/.
Christ Community Church is at 4050 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers.