Play-Place for Autistic Children: An Autism Wonderland

What does an amusement park: a school and Michigan’s Play-Place for Autistic Children have in common? The answer may surprise you!

As a parent or caregiver for a person with autism, you realize the importance of a finding the right environment for your child. You become familiar with searching for a barber or dentist who can meet your child’s needs at an affordable price. Often times even close friends and family are confused about the special required, leaving you feeling lost when seeking ways to entertain, service and sooth your child.

PlayPlaceLogoShell Jones, founder of Play-Place for Autistic Children (PAC), understands those scenarios. After her son was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, Jones became motivated to change those experiences for her son and other families living with autism. Jones developed a plan to build an innovative support center in Michigan. Her plan combines the functions and features of amusement parks, schools and therapy rooms for an experience unlike any other. Jones envisions a special Disneyland like environment for children and families with autism. Her dream facility, currently still in development, will feature speciality rooms and environments specially designed to provide a therapeutic experience and accommodate large groups.

Play-Place’s mission is to provide a fun-filled, judgment-free, haven of hope for families affected by autism. Through a unique play-powered environment, we combine recreation and education with a variety of social, occupational and physical therapeutic overtones. Our one-of-a-kind destination focuses on development, life skills, independence, respite relief, resource management and vocational rehabilitation to assist families with the everyday nuances of “living with autism.” Play-Place for Autistic Children’s bottom line is inclusion, acceptance and support. (

The Sterling Heights based center is set to include an Art Studio, a Lego Room, a Swing room, a Comic Laser Chalk Room complete with a Carousel!  You heard right: A Cosmic Laser Chalk Room! Who wouldn’t want to feel like they’re the Terminator while playing with chalk?  Cinema- City, the 48-seat theatre, will screen movies at a lower volume and increased light level, making a day at the movies a more soothing experience for visiting families.

PAC will also provide additional resources for parents and families. Resource Management Forums will connect families to professionals who can assist them in finding autism support services. Other amazing features like Haircut Hut give families access to professional barbers who will provide haircuts while entertaining the children, helping them enjoy the experience. Bistro Coffee Shop will be a space for renewal and resilience; to socialize and share; and to make friends and fellowship with free Wi-Fi, and lunch & dinner menus with specialty diet options (i.e. gluten-free, dairy-free, dye-free) to pamper the Play-Place families. In addition to the entertaining and learning spaces, PAC will provide calming centers, designated to manage breakdowns.

Shell Jones and her team of dedicated volunteers and sponsors are are determined to take her dream of the Play Place for Children with Autism from the blueprints and into reality.  Soon, a child in Michigan will see a picture and ask, “Wow,  is that Disneyland?” And the parent can happily say, “No son, that’s Play-Place” and feel thankful that they don’t have to pay air-fare!

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