Autism Friendly Communities

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Autism Friendly Communities

Imagine a place where an individual with autism can experience life free of misperceptions and judgement about differences related to their disability. Autism Friendly places embrace neurodiversity, the concept that neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation. Individuals with autism and their families often face discrimination, isolation and exclusion because of misperceptions about their behaviors and abilities. Let’s change that together to eliminate headlines such as these:

Boy with Autism Kicked Out of Friendly’s, Pottstown, PA

Young adults with autism more likely to be unemployed, isolated

Dear shopper staring at my child having a meltdown

New Data Show Children with Autism Bullied Three Times More Frequently than Their Unaffected Siblings

In 2017, the Autism Society of Greater Akron launched its Autism Friendly Communities program in Summit County. Studies show that diversity enriches all aspects of a community’s life, including education, housing, cultural, and business opportunities. These aspects of a community’s life enhance economic strengths because we all win when everyone gets to share in our nation’s promises.


Summit Metro Parks Designated as Autism Friendly

Lisa Thompson Meghan Doran 1

Summit Metro Parks became the first facility to complete the Autism Society of Greater Akron’s Autism Friendly training, and received their seal on June 2nd, 2018. Throughout the training, ASGA worked with Summit Metro Parks to train 70 staff members –including park rangers, volunteers, and customer service representatives – in recognizing the characteristics of autism and how best to support and include individuals and families when they visit the park.

At the completion of the program, Summit Metro Parks began displaying signage to notify patrons that people visiting their parks may display the characteristics or symptoms of autism and that all are welcome. A park ranger has already benefited from his training, telling us, “I helped a gentleman recently and was able to apply the information that I learned at your training to resolve a situation. The timing of the training really assisted me. Great job getting us set up with this successful program!”

Click here to learn more about Summit Metro Parks' Autism Friendly initiatives.


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Components of the Program

As an Autism Friendly Community partner, you realize that individuals with autism experience the world differently and are willing to evaluate and adapt your business and its services in five key ways to better accommodate individuals living with autism by:

  • Providing information
  • Training staff and volunteers
  • Assessing space, programs and procedures
  • Reviewing progress through feedback
  • Supporting autism awareness and understanding

Training Model and Objectives

The module “Stop, Assess, Support,” was created by the Autism Society of Greater Akron to support a variety of audiences, in a variety of situations, including whether the person’s diagnosis of autism is known or not. SAS is a framework that can easily be tailored to organizational needs and disciplines.

What does the program cost?

ASGA is a non-profit, wholly governed by a local board of directors and funded by donors, grants, and fee-based programs. The Autism Friendly Community initiative is a fee-based program that helps to support ASGA and its programs and services. If a training budget is not available, an arrangement that works for both parties can be discussed.


Finally, we thank you for your leadership, community citizenship, and your commitment to including all people in the experiences of being a part of our community. We’re so proud and excited to work with you!

Summit County is Autism Friendly – First in State
Summit Metro Parks Designated Autism Friendly on June 2, 2018

Welcome to OUR Autism Friendly Community!

Want to be Autism Friendly?  Contact us HERE


The Autism Friendly Communities program is made possible by:

United Way of Portage County