Puzzle Pieces

What is Puzzle Pieces?

On the second Sunday of each month from 11 to 1, the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center offers free admission to families with children who have autism spectrum disorders. Children play in a safe and understanding environment where the lights and sounds are kept low, a therapy dog and music therapist provide soothing interactions and fun activities are designed just for them.

The Puzzle Pieces program provides opportunities to enjoy family time at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center in a safe and understanding environment, allows parents to network with one another, and helps families discover new resources available to them. KCDC is not open to the public during this time.

Why Do Kids Need Puzzle Pieces?

Every child deserves rich and diverse museum experiences. Children who have autism spectrum disorders need and enjoy play, but may find some kinds of play difficult. For these children, play is vitally important to learn social skills like communication, observation and imitation (Mastrangelo, 2009). Puzzle Pieces also gives children a chance to practice using their muscles to perform tasks, all while having fun in a supportive environment.

How can my family participate?

Advance registration or sign up is not required. Simply come to the Kansas Children's Discovery Center for an event. For more information about Puzzle Pieces, please contact Payton Friess at pfriess@kansasdiscovery.org or 785-783-8300. Puzzle Pieces events are subject to change, please check this website for the most current information.

How is Puzzle Pieces funded?

Puzzle Pieces is provided by generous individuals and businesses. We thank Target for their generous support that allows this program to take place at no cost families. To allow more families to access Puzzle Pieces, donate now. 

Puzzle Pieces makes a difference for families.

“When you come here it is almost like a safe haven…. The hope that you need, you get it here. That is unlike anything else and that is really what we come here for.”
- Puzzle Pieces Parent

“KCDC is a wonderful gift to our community, to have a place that allows every child, no matter their interests of abilities, the chance to engage, participate and create.”
- Cathie Huckins, Children’s Services, Assistive Technology Director, TARC

Lucy, the Therapy Dog

Lucy the therapy dog is a beloved Puzzle Pieces volunteer. Lucy is a five year old golden Doodle, who celebrates her birthday on June 20. She is a certified therapy dog, trained through Loving Paws. She loves children and especially loves to be petted!

Lucy lives with her parents and has one brother, Charlie Brown, who is nine months old. Lucy and her trainer, Dr. Ximena M. Garcia, regularly attend Puzzle Pieces. Please stop by and introduce yourself to Lucy!

Puzzle Pieces Advisory Committee

Linda Burgen, MS, BCBA
Easter Seals Capper Foundation, Autism Service Director
Kristen Dayo
Mathematics Instructional Coach - Whitson Elementary School. Parent of two children, one on the Autism Spectrum.
Marlene Graber
Topeka Public Schools, Autism Consultant
Martha Palmer
TARC Inc, Children’s Services Teacher
Susan Voorhees, PsyD
Private Practice
Breanne Wasinger, MA
Museum Studies, focusing on integrating special populations into museums.


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