Nature museum offers 'Breakfast with the Butterflies' for children with special needs

A number of Chicago's cultural institutions offer a day designed for children with special needs. One of them is the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park.
January 12, 2014 6:49:30 AM PST
A number of Chicago's cultural institutions offer a day designed for children with special needs. One of them is the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park.

It's called "Breakfast with the Butterflies," where you will find 500 of them flying around. It's an amazing experience for children and their families.

Breakfast with the Butterflies started last spring. It is held the 3rd Sunday of every Month from 8 to 10 a.m.

"They're not here when it's very, very busy," said Rafael Rosa, vice president of education at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. "The last two years we've been working with a school that works with students on the autism spectrum. We started bringing those students to the museum and really saw them engage with nature, so we then started opening it up to parents with children across that spectrum."

In addition to crowd control, "We also reduce the noise levels in the museum and the light levels for those students who have issues with sensory," said Rosa.

Jennifer Okonma and her son Jude, who is three-and-a-half years old, love it here. Jude is autistic.

"He has trouble with eye contact, with other people, if they get too close he gets very nervous. He has a lot of defensiveness around being touched. He is very sensitive to light and to unexpected sounds," said Okonma. "We came last spring in May for the first time to the Breakfast with the Butterflies. It was so quiet. There were only about three other families there, which is actually what we needed. We needed it to have low noise and not a lot of people."

"It's not a free program because we are opening early, but if they want to stay longer than two hours they're welcome to after the museum opens as well and we also provide a breakfast for the students as well for children coming 'cause we know its early," said Rosa.

"It's just a total sensory wonderland in here. There's birds, there's turtles, there's fish and all of the butterflies of course," said Okonma.

The next Breakfast with the Butterflies is next Sunday.

For more information, visit: www.naturemuseum.org.


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