Kaitlin's Hideout 526 Crescent Blvd., Glen Ellyn (in the "Little
$10 per visit Hours: 10:15 a.m.- 2:15 p.m.
Monday-Friday; 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday; noon-4 p.m.
A big couch in one corner, a TV humming along and kids' toys
spread all around-it looks like just about any living room you've
And that's exactly what Lisa Kelly set out to create when she
opened Kaitlin's Hideout, a play center for children with autism
that opened in Glen Ellyn earlier this year.
"I wanted it to be as comfy and cozy as possible," Kelly says.
"This is like someone's house."
Kelly's daughter, 10-year-old Kaitlin, was diagnosed with autism
eight years ago. She describes Kaitlin as being at the "pretty
severe" end of the autism spectrum, adding that Kaitlin is
Kelly spent several years primarily dealing with doctors and
therapists, and unable to spend much time with support groups
because she needed to care for Kaitlin. A former hotel and
restaurant manager, she began crafting the concept for Kaitlin's
Hideout because of the information and interaction gaps she
For $10, children are free to roam inside the Hideout from one
play area to another. There are also quiet areas, including a
pillow- and blanket-filled spot with a black light that avoids
overwhelming the senses.
"It's a safe place to play," Kelly says.
Parents are welcome to play with their child or sit on the couch
and talk with other parents. It's that kind of face-to-face
interaction Kelly wished she had during the early years of learning
"I'm trying to raise awareness," Kelly says. "You really need to
Right now, Kelly is trying to gather as much support as she can
to boost the profile of Kaitlin's Hideout, which is registered with
the state as a not-for-profit organization. She is accepting
financial donations, but also will take toys, games, movies or
computers to expand her offerings.
"Anyone who is touched by autism thinks it's awesome," Kelly
says, adding she's had families visit from as far away as Rockford
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