To the Editor:

As founder and director of Arts For Healing, a creative, arts therapy center for special-needs children and adults, I am writing to express how much Grace Farms has done for all the families that receive our services.

Since 2000, Arts For Healing has been providing therapy and special education through music, art, theater and dance for the growing population of children with autism spectrum disorder, those with neurological issues, processing disorders, developmental disabilities, physical and emotional impairments, as well as servicing Alzheimer’s patients, individually and through senior centers.

We were given a space grant by Grace Farms Foundation when they first opened Grace Farms in October 2015, and since then, have been able to expand our group offerings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Since our location at 24 Grove St. is small, and most groups take place in the outreach programs we provide to schools and developmental centers, the space at Grace Farms allowed us to create new, innovative programming for children and adults. It has been a wonderful and creative collaboration.

Unfortunately, there are not many places in our community where parents and caregivers can feel free and accepted with their special-needs children. Our clients and their families have been totally accepted and feel included and welcomed every time they visit. The peaceful surroundings provide much needed respite for caregivers, whether they sit by themselves while their children participate in our programs or they take walks with their children and enjoy doing something together in this protected environment.

Many of our parents and caregivers have expressed how grateful they are to be at Grace Farms and feel fortunate to have an alternative place to share with their children.

This inclusive environment must be taken seriously and respected. It is a place without judgment. Everyone is welcomed, which is not the norm in the world of special needs.

I am deeply grateful that Arts For Healing, as an organization, has been given the opportunity to be part of such a special place and thankful to have helped expand awareness of the need for inclusive environments.

Karen Nisenson

Founder and director of New Canaan-based Arts For Healing