When Raquel Noriega couldn’t find a birthday party venue that could accommodate her 2-year-old daughter Ava, who is on the autism spectrum, she decided to open one herself.
According to ABC News, Noriega kept encountering venues that hosted several parties at once, or played loud music, which can overwhelm a child with sensory sensitivities.
“Most venues had too much stimulation, music going, lights going. It was just chaos, and it’s not really good for a child with sensory issues,” Noriega said. For that reason, Ava sadly didn’t have a first birthday party.
For her daughter’s second birthday, however, “I wanted to be able to go do fun things with my child and have a birthday party for her,” she told The Mighty.
When Noriega found Pixie Dust in Bayshore, New York, she was relieved that as a one-party venue, it would suit her daughter’s needs. Then, last month, she decided to buy the whole place – and create an all-inclusive space that is friendly to children of all ages with special needs and dietary restrictions.
On staff is a special education teacher as well as a development therapist; Noriega is also working to become a certified autism specialist.
“Our parties are customizable to each child’s needs and likes,” she added. “Every detail is thought and talked about with the parent during the planning process to prevent any meltdowns.”
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And it looks like Pixie Dust is already making an impact.
“I received the best call of my life today,” Noriega posted on Pixie Dust’s Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon. “A young man with autism called to express his thanks to me for opening Pixie Dust cause he was never able to go somewhere to celebrate his birthday when he was a child.”