History museum

Autism History Museum Coming to Meridian Mall in February

Chloe Alverson

Xavier DeGroat, 31, opens an autism history museum in Meridian Mall on February 4. As someone on the autism spectrum, DeGroat hopes her museum will serve as both a safe space for people on the spectrum and an educational center.

DeGroat, who grew up in Delta Township, said he made many visits to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, which inspired him to open his own museum. He also said he was inspired by his childhood role model, Fred Rogers, from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

“I wanted to open my own style of museum, because I’ve never seen anything like it,” DeGroat said.

The museum would be the first of its kind in the country dedicated to the history of autism. It will feature a wall of autism history, including milestone moments, discoveries and figures. Notable people on the spectrum, like Albert Einstein and Elon Musk, will be highlighted.

“An important thing to know is that this won’t just be a museum,” DeGroat said. “It will be a center where children can have fun and learn in a sensory environment.”

The museum will offer a sensory space for children with autism. With a location next to Schuler Books, DeGroat plans to host a story hour for children when they visit the museum. Puppet plays are also in preparation.

DeGroat started his own foundation, the Xavier DeGroat Autism Foundation, in 2018. The foundation holds a groundbreaking ceremony on February 4.

There will be no charge to visit the museum, but donations will be accepted. Official opening hours must be advertised.