The truth is, it's no longer to acceptable to talk about ANYTHING but awareness and services when it comes to autism. In fact, "neurological difference," not disorder, is the correct way to discuss autism.
(And certainly the chilling subject of regressive autism where typically developing kids lose learned skills, including the ability to talk, is verboten.)
I imagine that we'll be seeing an end to any studies on the cause of autism, even those fruitless searches for the elusive autism gene. It's now time to embrace autism as a regular part of childhood and young adulthood in America. Of course something so common and often having such an impact on an individual means that some charges have to be made in order to assimilate such a significant part of the population.
That's exactly what's happening. We're being educated to accept autism as a normal part of the human condition everywhere in the media. Here are some recent examples. (Notice the use of "sensory friendly"/"autism friendly" in these stories.)
It will be Swallow Hill's first sensory friendly concert, specifically designed for individuals with sensory sensitivities and developmental disabilities.
The intended audience includes people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, who can be easily over-stimulated, especially in unfamiliar settings.
Oct 27, 2016, Good Housekeeping: Toys R Us Offers Quiet Shopping Hours for Kids With Autism—More stores should copy this great idea.
Toys R Us just made a big change that will help parents of children on the autism spectrum shop with less stress this holiday season. Stores across the United Kingdom will host a quiet shopping hour free of in-store distractions on November 6, according to the Telegraph.
The plan is to turn off the in-store music and announcements, dim the fluorescent lights, put in autism-friendly signs and mark specific quiet zones throughout the store. These factors were chosen specifically because they can make autistic children and adults feel overwhelmed or even cause them physical pain, Daniel Cadey, autism access manager for the National Autistic Society in the United Kingdom told the Telegraph….
We're hoping Toys R Us locations in the United States will adopt this idea too. Parents have petitioned for sensory-friendly aisles in Target and ShopRite with local success, but children on the autism spectrum and their parents deserve a place to shop comfortably year-round, no matter where they live. After all, Toys R Us is a place where a kid can be a kid, right?
Oct 27, 2016, Miami Community Newspapers: Little Orphan Annie at the Banyan Bowl, and Jazz!
The Saturday matinee is Sensory Friendly (a slightly edited down version with lower sound levels) for children on the autism spectrum, and the ticket price for the Saturday matinee is $5.
Oct 27, 2016, MyEastonShore.com (MD): Sensory-friendly Trunk or Treat offered
Kinera’s Trunk or Treat will kick off at 2 p.m. with a sensory-friendly “trick or vendors and businesses will have tables and trunks decorated in Halloween style, and participants will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite display. Trick or treaters are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes and will be able to participate in the crafts and games station, as well as trick or treating at the vendors’ tables for treats and giveaways. The sensory-friendly portion of the event will last through 4 p.m.
Oct 27, 2016, (St. Joseph MO) News Press: What's up, Oct. 27, 2016
Sensory-friendly family movie, 10 a.m., St. Joseph Public Library, East Hills branch, 502 N. Woodbine Road. For information, call 816-236-2136.
Oct 26, 2016, (Sharon, PA) Herald: Things to do from Oct. 26, 2016
- Sensory-friendly trick-or-treat open to the community at Capable Kids, Hermitage, on Sunday. Staggered start times to prevent crowding from 2 to 4 pm. Open trick-or-treat from 4 to 5 pm.
Oct 26, 2016, Film Journal International: (Austin,TX) Alamo Drafthouse introduces sensory-friendly screenings
The new "Alamo for All" are sensory-friendly screenings open to all ages, including infants. Like its "Baby Day" predecessor, at these specially designated screenings the house lights are left a little brighter and the sound is turned down a little lower. The feature film will run without the Alamo Drafthouse's signature preshow and without trailers. Moving around the theatre and noise will be allowed….
Finding a sensory-friendly screening at Alamo Drafthouse and planning your next trip will also be much easier, thanks to a new page on the Alamo Drafthouse's website—drafthouse.com/program/alamo-for-all—where guests can find an up-to-the-minute list of screenings in their area as well as full details on sensory-friendly policies.
Oct 26, 2016, Lagniappe Weekly: (Mobile, AL) Calendar of Events: October 27–November 2, 2016
The American Autism & Rehabilitation Center will host its second Sensory-Friendly Trick-or-Treat event in its Daphne facility on Friday, Oct. 28, 4-6 p.m. This event is geared toward families with special needs who may find it difficult to participate in traditional Halloween festivities. For more information call 251-210-1632.
Oct 25, 2016, Broadway World: American Repertory Ballet Announces its 2016 Annual Nutcracker Season
American Repertory Ballet will open the Nutcracker season in New Jersey at Union County Performing Arts Center's main stage in Rahway on Saturday, November 19 at 2 p.m. On Sunday, November 22 at 1 p.m., for the second time annually, ARB will present its Sensory-Friendly Production of Nutcracker. This abridged, one-hour, performance is especially for children and adults with special needs and is made possible by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders as part of the UC Sensory-Friendly Theatre series.
It is subtle, pervasive, and constant, and we’re all getting the message: If your child ends up on the autism spectrum, just accept it. What better way to make an epidemic of disabled children go away?—Urge everyone to just make adjustments.
What is undeniable is the fact that we have to do this. Movie theaters and community organizations didn’t suddenly decide to provide for individuals with special needs—people who’ve always been around, just neglected. The sensory friendly accommodations are happening because of the drastic number of kids on the spectrum. The need is huge; the response is what you’d expect. This is just the beginning. Every public service will have to specifically address this population. We have no choice. (The key is to keep on pretending nothing is wrong.)
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.