By Brett Milam
The second annual sensory-friendly Easter egg hunt was held by ALL IN for Autism on March 31.
ALL IN (Assisting Lifelong Learners with Individual Needs) for Autism, is a startup non-profit organization run by Matthew Sampsel. His wife, Kristin, does the communication. His co-founder was his co-worker Sandy Flora.
Held at Miami Riverview Park in Loveland, the event is meant to be more amicable to those with sensory issues, where large crowds of people and loud music might be painful for someone on the Autism Spectrum.
On April 5, The Clermont Sun did a full look into Matthew Sampsel, and the non-profit he started with Sandy Flora. Additionally,
The Sun heard from a few different parents and their children who attended the event.
To read more about Sampsel and to hear those parents’ stories, please pick up a copy wherever you find them or become a subscriber.
After that printing, The Sun heard from another parent, Belinda Padgett, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Newport Intermediate School, who lives in the Amelia area. Her five-year-old son, Hunter Guffey, attended the event.
Padgett said Hunter has been diagnosed with a developmental delay, but they are going to test for autism later this month.
“His biggest struggle is just being able to communicate effectively his wants and needs,” she said. “The last egg hunt we attended at our church he just picked up the eggs, opened them and threw the eggs and wrappers down on the ground. I had to go behind him to pick up everything he dropped.”
However, the way this egg hunt was organized was “beyond fantastic for my son,” Padgett said.
“When we arrived, we picked up our registration tags with Hunter’s name and headed towards the playground,” she said. “I immediately noticed that they had two tables with coloring and playdough for the kids to stay busy with before the hunt. I really had no idea what to expect, but I was very happy to see this because Hunter can sometimes have difficulty waiting for events.”
At first, Padgett was worried that the hunt would be a problem since the eggs were empty, but would be exchanged for candy later, saying Hunter might freak out.
“Hunter started picking up eggs and looking inside. I kept repeating the directions and encouraged him to place his open eggs in his basket,” she said. “It was actually really cute because he said, ‘ahhh’ as he opened each egg expecting a surprise but each one was empty.”
Padgett was also impressed with the “amazing little treats” given to the kids.
“I was expecting chocolate and stickers, but they had fun size bags of snacks, small fidget toys, and of course candy,” she said. “The volunteers were super sweet and called Hunter by his name at each station.”
She continued, “It was really awesome. These are some of the basic daily skills that we work on each day for him… requesting, making choices and using manners. He did an amazing job with this and we had zero meltdowns!”
Padgett was thankful to the organization for putting such thought into organizing an event like this for special needs kids.
“I am eager to attend more events like this one!” she said.