Autism Village

Autism Village

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a resource that can tell you the businesses and places that are the most ‘autism-friendly?’ Think of an app like Yelp! or Trip Advisor, but just for the autism community. This is what Topher Wurts had in mind when he came up with Autism Village, an app that will allow people in the autism community to rate and review places – such as museums, parks, restaurants, etc. – so families can find out what others in the community have found to be the safest, most sensory-friendly, accommodating places to visit.

Topher, whose son, Kirby, has autism, turned to Facebook and Twitter to ask parents about his concept – and the response was huge. Within weeks, thousands of followers encouraged Topher to pursue his idea – and now he’s got a Kickstarter to help launch the Autism Village.

So when this app is up-and-running, and you want to find out, for example, what restaurants near you accommodate special diets, or who is the most highly-rated dentist by other parents, or the safest local playgrounds – you may want to look to Autism Village.

Read some more about Autism Village.

Lynsey, Community Manager

GPS-Tracking Clothes

ID Clothing 1It seems like almost every day there is a terribly upsetting story about a child with autism who has gone missing as a result of wandering off. It’s a fear that many parents share – and rightfully so. In fact, as discussed here, a 2012 study showed that nearly half of the parents surveyed said their child with autism had tried to wander off or run away at least once after the age of 4, and most said their child was gone ‘long enough to cause worry.’

With this concern, the idea of a tracking device is not something new – often seen as something children could wear on their wrists. But former CNN correspondent Lauren Theirry, whose teen son, Liam, has autism, developed a new idea. She founded Independence Day (ID) Clothing, which offers shirts and pants that hold a small tracking device – which weighs less than an ounce. And unlike the other wearable IDs out there – such as ankle or wrist devices – ID Clothing’s GPS units slip inside soft pockets sewn into each garment, without any uncomfortable wires or weight.

This is particularly helpful for those with sensory issues  — the device being so small and hidden away that it wouldn’t even be felt. Also something we really like and shows the thought put into the clothes’ creation – the shirts and pants are the same forward and backward, making it easier for kids to dress themselves. (Plus no zippers, no tags and no buttons!!)

Check out more on Independence Day Clothing.

Lynsey, Community Manager


Visit with Santa


In the past we’ve talked about different places – such as museums and movie theatres – that have made special arrangements for those with autism in order to make visits more sensory-friendly. Some malls across the country are doing something similar this holiday season by offering special Santa visits. This is a time where, in some cases, the lights are lowered, store music is turned off and lines are short, eliminating some of the distracting and/or upsetting environmental factors that may impact an autistic child during a trip to see Santa.

Two malls currently offering “sensory-friendly” Santa hours include Maine Mall – which offered four ‘Caring Claus Sundays’ – and Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia – which provided the Autism Society of Tidewater a chance to visit with Santa before the mall opened (check out this article).

This is yet another great example of how businesses and local organizations are giving families the opportunity to enjoy time together – it’s just a little adjustment for these businesses, but a world of difference for families touched by autism.

I’m sure there are more malls and locations that may offer something similar this holiday season, so if you know of one, please share it with us here!

Lynsey, Community Manager