Nation’s first autism history museum opening in Frankenmuth

Nation’s first autism history museum opening in Frankenmuth FRANKENMUTH, Mich. (WNEM) — A new center in mid-Michigan is promoting opportunities for people living with autism. A ribbon cutting in Frankenmuth celebrated the Xavier DeGroat Autism Foundation Museum, the nation’s first autism history museum. There was a big turnout for a big cause on Tuesday, Feb. 13 as Frankenmuth welcomed a new neighbor with the grand opening of the Xavier DeGroat Autism Foundation Museum, cutting the ribbon and the stigma. “Much of our innovations that we use today in technology and our culture of arts had been established because of those on the spectrum, such as Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, as well as Leonardo da Vinci,” said Xavier DeGroat, the founder and CEO of the foundation. Having been diagnosed with autism at the age of 4, DeGroat has turned his challenge into his superpower. He started the foundation back in 2018 with a goal to create and promote opportunities for people with autism. Originally starting in Lansing, the foundation has now made its permanent home in Frankenmuth. “I had been here when I was a child and decided that it would be a great town to be permanently because it’s very touristy and has a lot of influence that brings people together and all cultures,” DeGroat explained. “It’s been a great turnout,” said Jamie Furbush, the president and CEO of Frankenmuth Chambers of Commerce. “It’s been really encouraging to see all of our community come and support Xavier in this new endeavor. And there’s been a lot of curiosity and a lot of people just really excited to support him and help continue to learn together.” Lining the walls of the museum are notable historical figures — past and present — who fall on the spectrum. There is also a sensory room where children can play and parents can rent for parties. DeGroat hopes to inspire others like him and open the minds of those who aren’t. “That is what gave me the soul to believe in my own heart rather than letting people define me,” he said. “So, I decided to do this all throughout my heart. The foundation would not be the same without me.” To give him a warm welcome to the neighborhood, one of our favorite neighbors made a special delivery. “It is a very important message when you walk through this museum to learn, so, that is my reason for coming to your neighborhood and helping Xavier open the museum of autism. Speedy delivery,” said David Newell, who played postman Mr. McFeely in “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”. The museum will officially open to the public on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

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