Adults with autism want input on community services
Vivian Ly, who is autistic, sits for a photograph during a break from classes at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 10, 2017. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
TORONTO - A growing number of Canadian businesses are providing programs and services geared toward autistic people, but some adult members of their target audience want more of a say on how the offerings are developed.
Organizations from movie chains to airports to blood services labs have designed programs geared toward addressing the needs of people with sensory sensitivities or cognitive disabilities.
The programs range from digital apps laying out steps of common activities that take place at a business to special "sensory friendly" events with features such as brighter lighting and lower sound.
Many of the companies involved in the growing trend say they're committed to supporting an underserved population, adding that members of the autistic community have had a say in the development of their programs.
But some autistic adults, while welcoming the focus on better accommodation, say they need a more prominent seat at the table as they have perspectives to offer that may not be available from some high-profile autism advocacy and support organizations.
They say many of those organizations are led by therapists or parents of autistic children and may not be equipped to accurately convey the needs of adults with direct experience living with autism.