GRANDVILLE, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) — Loud noises, big crowds and flashing lights could be a nightmare situation for families with a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. So, when the Easter Bunny visited Michigan, he came prepared.
A sensory-friendly environment was prepared on Sunday to help kids and their families feel more comfortable. Erika Diaz lives in Holland, and she brought her family to see the Holiday icon for the first time driving up to the Rivertown Crossings Mall in Grandville.
"It's only because I saw it was Autism friendly," Diaz said. "Usually it's a mess. A lot of crying and usually it's a lot of screaming and trying to run away, and that kind of stuff."
Diaz has three children: Natalia, Milo and Ramiro. All three of them have Autism.
"With events like this, we can relax. We know everyone in line or waiting knows what we're going through and has patient because they understand," Diaz said.
Angela Workman agrees. She drove from Middleville so her children, Shawna and Derek, could meet the Easter Bunny. Derek has Autism.
"It's an awesome event that we can actually participate in," Workman said. "We can take our time and actually have fun."
The Diaz family did take their time. The group made two trips back to see the bunny so they could get the right photo.
"Not having a typically developing child, you know sometimes I have that desire myself. I really want a picture of all three of my kids looking at the camera," Diaz said. "It's nice I can try a few times and not feel so bad."
The Easter Bunny event was hosted by Centria Healthcare. The event also happened before normal operation hours at the mall to prevent other foot traffic from becoming a distraction.