Irvine museum gets autism grant

Pretend City Children's Museum in Irvine was recently awarded "The Possible Dream" grant to fund autism programs.

The Festival of Children Foundation, which was founded by Sandy Segerstrom Daniels and the Orange County Register, pay for the program as do community donations.

"Pretend City is designed to be the place where Orange County families can take their children during the critical first years of life to increase their 'brain power' and develop essential foundational learning skills," Pam Shambra, museum president, said in a prepared statement. "We look forward to utilizing these important grant funds to further enhance that mission and ensure it is available to all children in our community."

The museum, which lets children play in a make-believe city, is considered a unique environment for autism programs because it allows the children to practice behaviors in different settings — for example, how to go to the post office, eat out at a restaurant or go to the gas station.

Before the award, the museum held two autism days where it shut the door to the general public, allowing in only families who had children with autism spectrum disorders.

With the grant, the museum aims to hold two events a month for those affected by autism, such as creative relaxation classes, family autism day and an autism workshop.

For more information about Pretend City, visit its website at

—Joanna Clay

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