Family Time: Find community resources at Autism fair

Find out what services are available for families at the Rochester Center for Autism Resource Fair. Open to all, the first-ever event is designed to connect families of children with autism to local resources.

"We plan to have two dozen or so organizations at the resource fair," said Kelli Brandstad, program supervisor. "Parks and Recreation Adaptive Division, RT Autism Awareness Foundation, Rochester Public Library's Sensory Science Program and more."

The resource fair follows an open house format, allowing families to go from table to table to talk with representatives from various organizations, discuss their families' needs, and learn more about what options are available in areas like recreation, respite care and supplementary therapies.

"You have families who have been in the system for a while and are more knowledgable. Then you have families who just received a diagnosis and are pretty lost," Brandstad said. "Regardless of your family's situation, the goal of the resource fair is to connect parents to what's out there in the community."

In addition to the resource fair, RCA offers a free monthly parent support group. Held Wednesday evenings, the meetings typically feature a guest speaker with recent topics focusing on caring for the needs of siblings, effective transitions and dealing with adolescence. The meetings also offer time to meet and network with other families.


"We definitely have a good number of parents and families that come every month," Brandstad said, noting that RCA offers child care during the meetings, for a small fee. "The group is open to families with someone on the (autism) spectrum, of any age. They do not have to be clients of RCA. It's a great opportunity to get information and meet other parents."


Nighty night

Sit down and listen at the Bedtime Stories program at the Rochester Public Library, 101 Second St. SE. Held from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on most Tuesdays year-round, the free, early evening event offers songs, rhymes and stories to little ones and their favorite big people. Call 328-2303 for more information.

Is there more? The Rochester Public Library also offers daytime storytimes: Baby Time (10 a.m. Thursdays) and Toddler Time (10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Thursdays). All are free. For more details, visit


As fast as you can

Finish what you started at the Med City Kids' Marathon on Saturday. It's free and open to kids in kindergarten through eighth grade. Prior to Saturday's race, runners must log 25 miles (many of which have been logged during school running clubs) and register for the event. If you haven't registered already, your last chance is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at A Child's Kingdom, 1621 N. Broadway. On the day of the marathon, kids check in is from 9:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Mayo Civic Center. The 1.2-mile run begins at 11 a.m., with parents picking their runners up at the end of the race. Go to to find out more.


What else? Little ones ages 6 to 23 months are invited to participate in the Med City Marathon's Diaper Dash, as are kids ages 2 to 5 in the Toddler Trot. Both races are free and will be at noon on Saturday. Register from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at A Child's Kingdom.


Find it

Head over Saturday to Whitewater State Park where families will step outside for the Evening Geocaching program, from 7 p.m. to 8 pm. The group will use GPS units to find the park's new Call of the Wildflowers hidden cache. Free. State Park fees apply, $5 (daily) or $25 (annual). GPS units available to borrow. Call 932-3007 with questions.

Is there more? For families looking for a free, daytime activity, checkout Whitewater's Mini Monsters at the Beach from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Dress for the water, as kids of all ages will be using nets to search Whitewater's streams and beach for water monsters (bugs, tadpoles, fish). State Park fees apply. Go to for more information.


Mom meeting

Mothers & More meets at 7 p.m. May 26. at People's Food Co-op, 519 First Ave. SW. Open to moms of all ages and stages, the meeting will focus on family-oriented financial planning. Go to for more details.


Need to know more? Mothers & More meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. Membership is $45 a year and includes weekly play dates, moms-only outings and family-friendly events. Email with questions.

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