Pinellas County nonprofit christens new autism center
People with autism have a new resource in Pinellas County where they can receive intensive therapy. County commissioners, civic leaders and parents of children with autism were on hand Monday to help PARC open its new Autism Behavioral Center at 3100 75th St. N. in St. Petersburg. Designed by an expert on multisensory environments, the center is meant to provide a calm learning environment for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, many of whom have an aversion to touch, smell, loud noises and certain colors, said PARC President Karen Higgins. Those enrolled will work on developing skills needed for daily communication and interaction to prepare them to enter school. They will also work on overcoming food aversions and other problems.“Everything in the whole center is lightly painted with a seascape, beach theme, and there are sea creatures and mirrors on the wall. It’s fabulous,” Higgins said. “It just made sense for us to open an autism center there’s a huge demand, and we’re hoping it will allow us to reach more people.” The center also features a vibrating ball pit, multiple playrooms and two-way mirrors for parents to watch how behavior analysts and staff work with their children without interfering in their sessions. PARC currently works with more adults then children, but Higgins said she hopes the new center will attract more children. Established in 1953, PARC works with about 800 children and adults with developmental disabilities. The new center is expected to bring in as many as 50 people a day, Higgins said.