The Tulsa State Fair is an official Autism Friendly Location.
The co-founders of a non-profit organization for families affected by autism recognized the need for families to get out into the community. There are numerous challenges families with autistic children face when entering an unfamiliar location. It becomes easier to stay home, although countless hours and financial resources are spent on therapies and treatments for these children in attempts to use the acquired skills in public. Meaning, taking the therapies from the home, school and centers and utilizing them in the community in order to gain the skills necessary to function as independently as possible. In order to facilitate this transition, a program was created to provide opportunities for families to be able to enjoy outings in an understanding environment. By bringing attention to autism and the needs of individuals and families, these individuals can put some of their worries aside, and feel confident that they are a welcomed patron, who is valued and accepted.
Autism is an "invisible" disability which poses challenges since individuals may not be recognized as such. Therefore, in order to bridge this gap, a brand of identification was created in hopes to spread a positive message while alerting others of the hidden disability. It is important for children with autism to have proper identification to help both families and businesses feel more comfortable and welcome in public places. Once other people are aware of an individual's disability, the more understanding and helpful they become.
For children with autism spectrum disorders, opportunity, consistency and repetition are the keys to learning to become acclimated to a new environment. Because generalization is difficult, a child with autism will need to spend time and explore each new environment and learn how to adjust. If wearing appropriate identification helps individuals with autism and their families gain a sense of understanding and support in the community, they can become less isolated and more independent. This is a win for the families and a win for the businesses.