MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — A gathering space for children with autism and their families.
That’s what Tayna Herbst’s nonprofit, The Christopher Center, brings to Mankato.
“I’ve had this dream for many, many years. Creating a space for families to come, to enjoy activities with their young children, to learn more about Autism and how they as parents can work with their child in that parenting style, not education or therapy style, to help teach their child those vital skills that they need to be successful in other environments," Herbst explained.
Herbst is an educator with the Mankato Area Public Schools Early Learning Program, where she serves as an autism specialist and an assessment specialist for children from birth through kindergarten.
Thanks to a donation from the Madison East Center, she was able to open up The Christopher Center in September. It features a play space designed specifically for children with autism, with visual schedules, sensory activities and carefully selected educational toys, as well as a gathering space for parents.
“To be able to talk with other parents who are experiencing the same things they are," added Herbst.
Named after Herbst’s late brother, the center’s inspiration stems straight from the heart.
“My older brother, Christopher, had significant learning disabilities, and he passed away at the age of 17. I look back and think ‘wow, my parents were just absolutely amazing.' Knowing now what my brother’s IQ really was and what he was able to accomplish with getting a driver’s license, getting a job ... it’s just been so important in my heart with how I work with children because I never say can’t," Herbst said.
The center provides various services, including autism screening, playroom rentals, parent and child classes, one-on-one consultations and more.
For more information, visit the center’s website here.