Families with children of autism enjoy a fun night out together

Apr. 24—HERMITAGE — Jayden Gordon, 10, couldn't keep his eyes off the video game's flashing lights at Olympic Fun Center Wednesday night.

That's common among autistic children, McKel Gordon, his mother said.

"Most kids with autism are fascinated with lights," she said.

The extended Gordon family of Farrell, owners of Devine Collaborative Care, and the Mercer County Branch of the NAACP jointly sponsored the free night out for dozens of local children with autism and their parents at the Hermitage roller skating and play center. The event drew around 120.

"We wanted to have a private time for kids with autism and their families," Gordon said. "It gives parents a break and a chance to network with each other."

Called the "Autism Awareness Fun Night," plans are to make it an annual event.

Hopes are the event will help create a local support group for families where autism resides. No such organization exists now.

"There are things that only families of a child with autism know and can share with each other," Gordon said. The family business provides housing for those with intellectual disabilities which also gives them insight into autism.

Jayden was diagnosed with autism when he was 18 months old. Unable to talk, his family provides the comfort and care of his inner world.

Educating the public about autism also is on the family's mind.

"The earlier autism is diagnosed the better," Gordon said. "You get provided with way more therapy to help."

Along with the lights on this evening, Jayden enjoyed running through the center with his socks. The family learned small things like that can mean a lot.

And that's part of the reason why parents of children with autism seek advice from the family.

"We don't have a handbook," Gordon said. "You try to take care of them the best you can."