Virginia Water Park Provides A Judgement-Free Zone For Children On The Spectrum

Going to a waterpark is a great experience for families to participate in during the hot spring and summer months. The problem with these water parks is that they don’t necessarily cater to those on the autism spectrum. A waterpark in Virginia provides a judgment-free event for the families of children on the spectrum.

SplashDown Waterpark in Manassas Virginia will begin hosting an event on Saturday’s for families of children on the autism spectrum. Whitney Ellenby is the mastermind behind these spectrum events. The former civil rights lawyer at the justice department is used to creating events that will better serve the autism community and in the past, has had a hand in scheduling events at different pools, gyms, movie theaters where kids on the spectrum and their families can attend and just be.

In a statement to the Washington Post, Ellenby talks about the criteria for the events she puts on. “The only rule at my events is no one apologizes for anything. You can flap, bounce, gallop — be as autistic as you want to be.” With one in 59 children being diagnosed with the disorder in the U.S. alone, it’s imperative we make public places become friendlier for a host of different people.


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) comes with a wide range of symptoms including social communication challenges, restricted or repetitive behaviors, hard time making eye contact, difficulty identifying facial expressions and tones of voice, among other things.

In public environments where parents can’t really control things like how bright the lights are, how loud the environment is, and how crowded a space might be, it can be difficult to keep children on the spectrum under control, outbursts are always expected to happen. When these outbursts happen, parents usually get unwanted stares and reactions from people who don’t really understand what it’s like to have a family member on the spectrum.

Many times, these families end up secluding themselves at home for that very reason — to avoid the stares and reactions from others who don’t really get it.

The Saturday event at SplashDown WaterPark was a complete success with parents attending along with their children of all ages. The best part of the event was those in attendance could be as natural as possible, they could flap their arms and be loud without anyone batting an eyelash.

The event was put together by Ellenby’s charity, Autism Ambassadors and was a great setting because it allowed parents to let loose a bit knowing their kiddos would be well taken care of. These autism-friendly events are becoming increasingly more popular as the years go by and as more children are being diagnosed with the condition. We’ve written about countless events catering to the autism community all around the country including locally in South Florida.

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