Autism Awareness Month
April is National Autism Awareness Month, and the Arkansas Autism Foundation (AAF)is celebrating by teaming up with local businesses to raise awareness. To show your support, all you have to do is visit a participating restaurant or retailer and a portion of the proceeds will go to the AAF.
Raising autism awareness and building understanding and acceptance is particularly important in The Natural State. According to the CDC, in 2020, the prevalence of autism was estimated at 1 in 54 childrennationally, but 1 in 66 in Arkansas. These numbers are up from reported 2019 statistics of 1 in 59 nationally and 1 in 77 in Arkansas.
The AAF was founded in February 2017 by local advocates who wanted to make a direct impact on the autism community in Arkansas.Today, the AAF helps individuals and families with autism throughout their lives, providing autism-friendly events, workshops, resources and training opportunities. The group also works to fund yearly grants for innovative or already existing programs that improve the lives of those affected by autism.
Autism Festival and Walk
Held our inaugural signature outreach event in May of 2017. This wonderful community event includes fun activities, refreshments, entertainment and a large autism related resource fair. We hosted over 450 participants who walked for our cause to raise awareness about autism in Arkansas. In March of 2018 we hosted our second annual Autism Festival and Walk, and it also was another great success with over 1200 participants in attendance.
Autism Awareness Event with the Arkansas Travelers
Hosted an autism awareness event with the Arkansas Travelers. It included a block of seats for families to watch the game together, along with an area for all-you-can-eat hot dogs and hamburgers and we participated in the “Field of Dreams” where several individuals were able to go out on the field for a photo opportunity with the players. One young baseball enthusiast with autism was given a chance to throw the “First Pitch.” Awareness videos were run on the marquee, the announcer shared about the increasing rates of autism and we hosted resource tables with several local organizations. We will continue to offer this as a yearly activity for our supporters.
Blue Tie Blue Jean Ball
Our signature fundraising event.
This lively and fun event includes food, libations, music , an amazing silent auction and has raised over $18,000 to support our mission.
Community Outreach Events
Hosted information tables at Sherwood Fest, HarvestFest, Team Up for Autism Conference, AAROC Zoo Day and Tinkerfest. We host these events to bring awareness to the community, share more Information about autism and collect information about families and individuals in need of more support.
Sensory Friendly Events
Sensory friendly jump event with Altitude Trampoline Park where participants were able to jump in solitude for one hour prior to opening. Sensory-friendly family night at the Museum of Discovery. The Museum of Discovery provided various interactive shows considering sensory issues that might affect some of our children on the autism spectrum. Noise-canceling headphones and a quiet, low-stimulus area were provided.
Sensory friendly visit with Santa! Families had an opportunity to have pictures made and visit Santa one on one with minimal distractions. All of these events were free!!
Teen and Young Adult Socials
Collaborated with Fellowship Bible Church and Young Life Capernaum to provide opportunities for teens and young adults with autism and other special needs to gather and socialize. We provided food and refreshments, and participants had fun playing video games, board games, ping-pong, foosball, pool, and basketball, as well as watching movies. While the youth and young adults enjoyed their fellowship, parents were given the option of having a few hours of respite, or meeting and connecting with other families in a separate area.
Transition Supports for Post-Secondary Education and Employment
Facilitated a seminar for parents and professionals to address the topic of transition supports for post-secondary education or employment. Several colleges, universities, and vocational training programs around the state were invited to share supports and resources available for students with autism or other special needs. For those looking towards employment directly after high school, we found providers of innovative vocational training programs to share, and for those simply wanting support for community integration after completing school, we had agencies talk about those programs as well.
It doesn’t matter if the Foundation is participating on a small or big event, we are always looking for friendly, outgoing, enthusiastic people that wants to make a real difference in the world of autism.
The Foundation helps individuals and families with autism and provide autism friendly events.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.
The Foundation provides autism friendly events and relevant workshops and training opportunities.
We are always looking for friendly, outgoing, enthusiastic people who want to make a real difference in the world of autism.