A day in nature: E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center hosts Celebrating Special Needs in Nature (PHOTOS)

Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 05:49 PM.

One special treat was a concert from Reid Soria, of Autism Sings, LLC. Diagnosed with severe autism at 3-years old, Soria's parents were told that he should be institutionalized, but they took another route. Today, the 27-year-old is a local celebrity showing his audiences that being different doesn't mean you need to hide from the world. He regularly plays shows to benefit non-profit organizations. On Nov. 23, Soria will play a benefit concert for Building Homes for Heroes at Howl at the Moon.

Getting to sing at Biophilia was an extra special treat.

"This is the way kids learn best, by touching and experiencing," said Soria's dad, Rick, a former educator.

During the Birds of Prey presentation, kids were treated to meeting a few birds that are living at Biophilia under the care of Lisa Miller, the Birds of Prey Rehabilitator. Birds such as Casper, a small Mississippi Kite, who is currently going through rehabilitation for a broken wing and a one-eyed Red Tail Hawk named Medusa captivated the children.

Whether it was animal feedings, or checking out the World of Wonder exhibit, Biophilia staff members happily interacted with kids and answered questions from the inquisitive minds.

"The one-on-one interaction with the Biophilia staff is great because it's not something teachers always have time to do in a classroom setting," said Kim Christopher, director of Special Olympics of Okaloosa and Walton County.

The general consensus of the Celebrating Special Needs event was positive among kids and families. Already, the Biophilia Center is planning to host similar events regularly throughout the year.

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