Family Fun Day being held for autistic children

HOUGHTON – Families with children who might be on the autism spectrum will be welcomed at Copper Country Autism Awareness’s second annual Family Fun Day Saturday.

The free event, sponsored by Copper Country Elks Lodge No. 404, will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Houghton Elementary School gymnasium.

Kathe Lanctot, a founder of the group, said the event is intended as a safe space for the families to come and have fun.

“So many times, it’s very hard for families to get out in public,” she said. “If a child is having a meltdown, they look at them like, ‘Do something with that child.’ You need to reassure the child the child is OK. … if we have meltdowns there, we don’t care. Everybody’s in the same boat.”

Attractions will include games, facepainting, bouncy houses, a rock wall and light snacks. There will also be prizes, including a limited-edition autism Build-A-Bear and tickets for a Finlandia University hockey game.

Last year’s event was a success, Lanctot said.

“We saw a lot of smiles, and a lot of happy parents, grandparents and children,” she said.

Lanctot founded the group with three other grandparents of an autistic child in Florida. She said they wanted to create a place where people could get information, share their stories and to make more people aware of autism.

“When we came home, we wouldn’t hear anything about autism in the area, so we thought it might be beneficial to create some awareness of autism, and to also help the families that have children on the autism spectrum,” she said.

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