A local business is offering its services to children with autism and is working with an area organization to bring awareness to the condition.
Pump It Up in Tempe opens its doors once a month to children with autism and their families for a program called Sensory Jump Time. Like the name suggests, what differentiates the setting at Pump It Up, a usually bright and sometimes loud place packed with children, is that during Sensory Jump Time things are a little more quiet and peaceful.
Pump It Up is franchised and the company as a whole has been working with Autism Speaks to let families know about the opportunity at their locations. Pump It Up is a physically large business, often housed in industrial districts due to the size, with multiple rooms featuring different sizes and shapes of what are essentially giant bounce houses.
Each room boasts something like an obstacle course or jousting arena. During regular business hours they host birthday parties and the place is full of kids. On the days of Sensory Jump Time, they close to allow only families who have children with autism.
"What we hear is that it's really the environment that is conducive to kids and is appealing," said Wendy Krone, spokeswoman for Pump It Up. "Parents feel safe bringing their kids here."
The partnership kicked off in April, which is Autism Awareness Month, with a nationwide event, Great Open Jump, which raised $40,000 for Autism Speaks. They have hosted Sensory Jump Time since.
Jumping can have a positive effect on children with autism due to a couple of different factors.
"The whole bouncing thing resonates with them and the repetitiveness of something is a very comforting feeling," said Amy Hummell, Arizona director for Autism Speaks. "The jumping in general is very comforting and affects their senses to the point where they don't feel fear and they feel comfortable."
The next Sensory Jump Time is on Wednesday, Aug. 31, at Pump It Up, 1325 W. Auto Drive in Tempe, from 5 to 7 p.m. and is $7 per child. To find out more, call (480) 940-7867.
Autism Speaks will also be hosting a fundraising walk on Oct. 30 at Tempe Beach Park, for which Pump It Up will have a team. Their website is www.WalkNowforAutismSpeaks.org.
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