For some children, birthday parties can be a bit overwhelming. Many party venues often host more than one party at a time, have loud music, and are typically too crowded. It can be a little much for any child, but especially for a child with special needs such as autism. That is why one mother took it upon herself to create a party venue specifically designed for children with special needs.
For Raquel Noriega, finding a place to host her 2-year-old daughter Ava’s birthday was nearly impossible, as Ava is on the autism spectrum and experiences sensory issues. In fact, a venue that suited Ava’s needs was so hard to come by that she didn’t even have a first birthday party.
“In my search, I did not come across venues that suited her needs,” Noriega told the Mighty. “Like every other mom, I wanted to be able to go do fun things with my child and have a birthday party for her.”
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“Most venues… had too much stimulation, music going, lights going. It was just chaos, and it’s not really good for a child with sensory issues,” Raquel added during an interview with ABC News.
After an extensive search, Noriega found the perfect place — Pixie Dust in Bay Shore, New York. However, rather than simply hosting a party, Raquel took it a step further and purchased the venue in order to help other children with special needs like Ava.
Pixie Dust hosts one party at a time and is able to completely customize each party to fit each specific child’s needs. The venue can accommodate up to 20 children and can adjust lighting, music, and the length of play time depending on the parent’s requests. The venue also includes themes such as “Pixies & Pirates,” “Buggy Birthday Buzz,” “Butterfly Garden,” and “Barnyard Picnic.” Pixie Dust also has a special education teacher as well as a development therapist on staff, and Raquel is currently in the process of becoming a certified autism specialist.
“Our parties are customizable to each child’s needs and likes,” Noriega explained. “Every detail is thought and talked about with the parent during the planning process to prevent any meltdowns.”
This is wonderful. Thank you,Pixie Dust for providing a safe place for Sensory Play for special children. :)… https://t.co/aYeZDywsQf
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Sensory play, which stimulates the five senses, is also one of the options available at Pixie Dust.
“Sensory Play focuses on stimulating children’s senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, balance and movement,” Noriega explained. “We use a variety of fun and messy ways to make that happen.”
“Sensory Play focuses on stimulating children’s senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, balance and movement,” Noriega said. “We use a variety of fun and messy ways to make that happen.”
Pixie Dust also gives parents the option of customizing the menu to fit their child’s dietary needs. The menu is diverse and even has gluten-free options.
“Most party places just offer pizza as an option,” she said. “We can customize the food menu for those with sensitivities to texture. The bakery that we use is a nut-free facility and we can create diary-free cupcakes or cakes.”
Raquel Noriega is already making an impact with her unique party venue.
“I received the best call of my life today,” Noriega posted on Pixie Dust’s Facebook page Wednesday. “A young man with autism called to express his thanks to me for opening Pixie Dust cause he was never able to go somewhere to celebrate his birthday when he was a child.”
[Image via Pixie Dust/Facebook]