Autism Friendly Business Initiative on WHAS

LOUISVILLE, KY. (WHAS 11)–A local non-profit is helping families dealing with a common disability feel more comfortable in our community through a new initiative launching Thursday.

The CDC reports about 1 in 68 children live with autism. Families for Effective Autism Treatment or FEAT of Louisville is creating a certification program that lets families know what businesses or community centers are trained to cater to people with autism.

Kyle and Vallory Brown say it’s a step forward for the community. “It’s tough to go out to restaurants. We understand that him having a meltdown would be uncomfortable to people, it’s uncomfortable for us,” Kyle said.

So tough, Kyle and Vallory haven’t been out to eat as a family in 3 years. Their 4-year-old son, Graeme has Autism. They say he acts like any other kid.

“He loves his school. He loves his teachers,” Vallory said. Graeme’s school, Carriage House Pre-School, is prepared to handle his condition and his parents wish other places in Louisville would be too.

“Just to kind of have compassion and as opposed to giving like a dirty look or making a comment just to maybe offer to help in some way or just to give them some space,” Vallory said.

Think of autism like an android phone in an iPhone-dominated world. They can all do the same things but their programming is a bit different. It’s why the Kentucky Science Center’s staff are re-working how they welcome children with autism through the help of FEAT’s Executive Director Deborah Morton and a certification sticker.“Basically says this is a place that understands, this is a place that’s taken the time to become autism aware,” Morton said.

Morton with Families for Effective Autism Treatment is starting the Autism Friendly Business Initiative and Coordinator of Fee Based and Catalyst Programs, Kasey Brown, helped the Kentucky Science Center become the first to complete the program. She doesn’t see why other businesses wouldn’t join in.

“To be more aware, and be more accepting of those who may be different than you,” Morton said.

A mindset Vallory says would be a step forward for her family and others with autism.

“It’s just having that awareness that this child may not be bad or tantruming, but that they are overwhelmed with something that you don’t necessarily understand,” Vallory said.

So families just like Graemes’ aren’t hesitant about going out.

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