News Release
 
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351, sondra.katzen@czs.org
 
March 23, 2016
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
 
Photos of Autism Awareness Day activities are available below.
Autism Awareness
Roosevelt Fountain 
 
Brookfield Zoo Goes Blue for Autism Awareness
 
Brookfield, Ill. –As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2014, one in 68 children are diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Although not replacing this official estimate, a new government survey of parents reported the number to be 1 in 45 children, ages 3 through 17, have been diagnosed with autism, which indicates there may be more prevalence of autism in the United States as once thought to be. To bring awareness of one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the country, Brookfield Zoo is partnering with Autism Speaks for the annual Zoos Go Blue Campaign on Saturday, April 2, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. To commemorate the day, the water in the zoo’s Roosevelt Fountain will be dyed blue and there will be blue flags decorating the park’s grounds.

“We are thrilled to once again partner with Autism Speaks and provide an engaging and memorable experience for families who have children on the autism spectrum,” said Jo-Elle Mogerman, vice president of institutional planning and inclusion for the Chicago Zoological Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo.

In light of research that has shown that the presence of an animal can significantly increase positive social behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorder, the animal care staff will be on hand to provide special Zoo Chats. These informal talks will allow families to enjoy up-close experiences with some of the animals. At 11:00 a.m. and noon, guests can head over to the Swan Pavilion to see a red-tailed hawk and Eurasian lynx, respectively. In Hamill Family Play Zoo, there will be a Zoo Chat about a boa constrictor at 1:00 p.m. Also, joining in the activities will be representatives from Autism Speaks, who will have booths set up at both the zoo’s north and south gates distributing information and answering questions.

Throughout the day, there will be special activities for families who have children on the autism spectrum. Youngsters can participate in a craft activity at the Hamill Family Play Zoo. The zoo’s Carousel will feature a quiet hour from 11:00 a.m. to noon, which will allow families to ride the popular attraction without loud music. In addition, at 1:00 p.m., there will be a sensory-friendly Dolphins In Action presentation. And, there will be a designated area in the Riverside Room, located in the lower level of BZ Red Hots, where families can go for some quiet time.
 “Autism Speaks is proud to partner with Brookfield Field Zoo as part of the Zoos Go Blue Campaign to spread awareness and understanding of autism, celebrate and honor the unique talents and skills of people with autism, and bring attention to the needs of all people with autism,” said Tamara Golden, manager of field development for Autism Speaks.

To enhance the zoo experience for families with a family member on the autism spectrum, the zoo offers several adaptive tools that can be downloaded from the zoo’s website (under "Resources") prior to a visit. These include a visual schedule, which can help prepare a guest for what his or her visit will entail with the aid of images. Parents can also access a social story about the zoo’s Living Coast exhibit that, through illustrations and written descriptions, help prepare a child for what he or she will see and may feel when visiting that particular exhibit.

The zoo also has several BZ Care Kits that can be checked out during a zoo visit. These kits include noise-reducing headphones, hard copies of visual schedules, autism stickers, and safety alert badges and ID bracelets in case a child gets separated from his or her family.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071
E-mail: Sondra.Katzen@CZS.org

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