Monday, December 4, 2017

"Spooktacular" by Stephanie Welter


    If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in being partnered with The Minnesota Autism Center Schools (The MAC School) is that when they put on an event, they do it right and they do it well! This year’s annual “Spooktacular” was no exception!
    The staff goes out of their way to present fun, adventurous activities for the students, so when they get a chance to decorate, set up game stations and put together a “spooky trail” they go all out and spend a lot of time and energy.
    This year the kids walked through the doors dressed up in their favorite costumes to a hallway filled with games. In order to get their “treat” the students had to do various things like tell a joke, play a game, or throw a ping pong ball into a tiny glass in order get their candy. As I approached the first station with my son Ben, the girls behind the candy station said to Ben, “Ummm….in order to get candy here, you have to tell us a joke.” I hesitated and said, “uh oh, I don’t think…..” no sooner did I get those words out of my mouth when Ben started. “Knock Knock” he said. “Who’s there?” they both chimed in simultaneously. “Boo!” he said. “Boo who?” they asked. “Don’t cry, it’s only a joke!” He replied as we all laughed.
    We sat and ate pumpkin shaped sugar cookies and headed into the dance. The gymnasium had special blue lights and a hologram projection of a haunted house against the wall with some quiet playing music and rubber insects on the floor.
   They offered a “trail of terror” type of experience which I never do. I don’t enjoy being scared out of my wits, but I asked Ben if he wanted to go and of course he said, “yes!” Off we went, tour guide in front of us cracking “scary” jokes, flashlights in hand we ventured off out the back door and into the woods. Left and right people dressed like zombies popped out of us. My sons laughed and joked while I screamed and jumped nearly out of my skin. I had more fun than I expected too and we all decided at the end that once again this year this event was even better than last. Complete success!
The kids were happy, the parents got great photographs and the staff got to try their hand at costume design and acting.
    One things that us parents of kids and even young adults on the autism spectrum, is when we get the opportunity to do “typical” kinds of things that other kids get to enjoy. The MAC School goes out of their way to provide “typical” kinds of fun activities for kids that are not neuro-typical. These kids work hard each day to do the things that most of us take advantage of, so to be able to laugh and enjoy and watch them thrive is a treasure to a parent like me.

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