The AWARE Program
Recognizing establishments where Autism is Welcomed, Accepted and Respected Everyday.
The Autism Council of Utah created the AWARE program so families have a listing of establishments that welcome, accept and respect their customers who live with autism. These establishments are awarded the AWARE certificate by YOU! If you know of an establishment that is aware of how to help individuals with autism and thier families have a more enjoyable experience, please give them the AWARE Certificate and email us their info so we can add them to our registry. We will then mail them an AWARE decal for their front window/door to display for all to see.
AWARE establishments may help to accomodate individuals with autism and their families by:
- Call ahead seating, offer to sit in a more quite area, have pictures to describe menu, display the Autism Employee Checklist for staff
- Offer a quiet room where parents can calm a child in case of over stimulation – such as coat room, unused private room or area of restaurant
- Signage that will inform other customers and promote understanding
- Use dim, natural lighting
- Use pale, pastel colors on walls
- Provide a quiet/less stimulating corner of the room for a child to go to/use to calm down
- Reduce visual distractions
- Avoid strong odors, use mild air freshening smells (vanilla works great!)
- Show services in words and pictures
- Call ahead check-in, so families are able to wait in car until you are ready
For many people, going to the movies, grabbing a bite to eat, or even visiting a local doctor’s office are activities that require minimal planning to make them successful. This is not the case for most people who live with autism. Careful planning must take place to ensure their comfort and safety, to help them understand the purpose of the activity and to make it enjoyable for everyone involved.
Typical Activity Plan of a family with a child living with autism.
“First, we talk about the activity for hours, days, even weeks in advance. We explain when we will leave, how we will get there, and the sequence of events that will or may occur. We try to visit these places before we bring our boys. We look for things that may take our fun and/or important activity and turn it into a disaster, like….loud music, really dim or really bright lighting, if they have pictures to display options, if there is some kind of child activity (coloring, toys, etc.), if the staff are patient and friendly, and so on. While we are at the activity we are constantly trying our best to help them adjust to the new setting. Often times we use these activities as teaching moment, teaching them manners and social skills.”
We need establishments in our community to support our loved ones living with autism and their families. The Autism Council of Utah has a FREE informational training packet to help educate you and your employees about autism, how to better serve these customers and how to create the best atmosphere for them. Once all employees have received this training, an AWARE decal is given to be displayed on the front door or window of the establishment plus a certificate of recognition to display inside. The ACU will also post your logo, establishment address and contact info on our AWARE Registry for all to access online.