Opening in Summer of 2021!
The Autism Nature Trail (The ANT) is a first-of-its-kind, interactive experience in nature, designed specifically for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. Located in the #1 State Park in the country, The ANT will become a new attraction at Letchworth State Park which hosts nearly one million visitors annually and remains a desired destination for responsible and safe outdoor recreation even amidst a worldwide pandemic.
The ANT is a one-mile looped main Trail with eight stations at various intervals, offering a range of experiences from quiet engagement to active exploration and adventure, including: the Sunshine Slope, a gentle, sloping maze in a natural clearing; the Music Circle, a circular grove of pine trees featuring nature-inspired instruments; and the Meadow Run and Climb, a dedicated space for running, jumping, climbing, balancing and testing strength, coordination and confidence. Specialized elements like cuddle swings, gliders, and “alone zones” also are a part of the Trail experience, each created to provide an inclusive environment for individuals of different needs and abilities. Signage telling visitors what to expect as they make their way around the Trail creates purposeful consistency and predictability.
Combating Social Isolation & Encouraging Inclusivity Statistics show that young people with autism spend disproportionate amounts of time indoors, often finding comfort in digital activities which results in social isolation. This disconnectedness not only affects individuals with ASD but also can affect caregivers and entire families. Because of our current and necessary sequestering due to COVID-19, many people can relate to this isolation with everyone now having a clearer understanding of feeling cut off from the world outside. The ANT is designed as a series of accessible and safe outdoor spaces in nature, yet far from the distractions and often overwhelming stimuli of everyday outside life.
Activities along the Trail support and encourage sensory perception, while also providing enjoyable activities for visitors of all abilities and ages. The eight sensory stations engage each individual’s auditory, visual, tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive processing, using nature and natural materials as the tools for skill-building. The ANT’s natural setting allows for safe social distancing and planned interaction throughout the experience of the Trail.
Click here to to learn more about The Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park.
Autism Nature Trail Renderings (14,255.03 KB)
Click here to view an artist's rendering of the proposed stations & trails that will be completed this year for the Autism Nature Trail in Letchworth State Park.
Other nearby autism-friendly experiences include:
Spotlight Theater in Warsaw has recognized the need to offer sensory-friendly movie viewings! Spotlight has had families book parties specifically so their children and friends could enjoy a movie in an environment that best suited them. Now Spotlight wants to make sure they extend this opportunity to everyone!
The second Saturday of a new PG or PG-13 movie will be a Free To Be Me Matinee Movie Experience at Spotlight. As part of this experience:
- Lights will be dimmed and not off
- There will be limited trailers shown
- No commercials will be shown
- The volume of the movie will be lowered
- Everyone is encouraged to get up and dance, sing to a song, pace the floor & enjoy the movie as you see fit!
- Closed Captioning glasses & cup units available, as well as headphones.
If you have questions on this program, wish to book a theater for a private party, or on any current or upcoming releases, call (585) 786-2222.