Sulphur water park opens early for those with special needs

Updated: Jun. 19, 2019 at 8:42 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - From 8:00 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. SPAR Water Park in Sulphur held a sensory swim for those with autism and special needs.

Dana Fullington’s child has autism. She says she’s thankful the park opened its doors.

“We have to be cautious of where we’re going, when we’re going,” Fullington, said. “The noise will get to him, the lighting will get to him, the sounds, everything.”

Fullington says most don’t know the struggle families face when raising a child with autism.

“He doesn’t function well," Fullington said. "He can have a melt down and then the whole family will just have to cancel what we’re doing and go home.”

Fullington says because of those difficulties, it’s hard to fit in.

“We just want them to be accepted and I want him to try to have a life just like his sister is going to have," Fullington said.

Dana’s struggle isn’t unique, many with autism are denied activities that we often take for granted.

SPAR’s recreation manager, AunJelle Burton, says to open the park was a no brainer.

“When we’re normally open to everyone it can get rather loud. Very loud," Burton said. "You know, the music is going on, there’s other kids screaming, there’s parents moving around quickly that some child may not be used to. As much as we welcome everybody anytime that we’re open, we just felt the need to offer this special time for them.”

SPAR has held the event for private groups before, but for the first time, the park opened early to families like Dana’s.

“We chose to offer it to the general population because there are people that are not part of those groups that really wanted the opportunity to come in and have their own time without loud music," Burton said. "So it’s more conducive of a swim time that’s safe and comfortable for them.”

The park will have a second sensory swim on Wednesday, July 10, from 8:00 am to 9:45 a.m.

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