Twins With Autism Start Business That Will Make Your Christmas Extra Jolly
Twins with autism start custom Christmas wrapping paper business.
Twins with autism start custom Christmas wrapping paper business.
Good news, Target fans. Holiday shopping at Target is about to get a lot less stressful thanks to a quiet shopping event designed for families on the autism spectrum.
The two-hour event will be held at the Target in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (on 2385 Covered Bridge Drive) on December 10 from 6 a.m to 8 a.m. As part of the event, lights will be dimmed, music will be turned off and store staff will be reduced, a Lancaster Target employee told The Mighty. Free Starbucks Coffee will be also available for any parents shopping that morning. The event will be held in partnership with Wellspan Philhaven, which provides behavioral healthcare for adults and children in central Pennsylvania.
Target is known for its commitment to people of all abilities. Earlier this year the store added Caroline’s Carts – shopping carts designed to seat older children and adults with disabilities – in the majority of its locations. Target has also featured people with disabilities in its advertising for the past 25 years.
Target is one of a handful of companies to offer quiet events for people on the autism spectrum. Last month, both Toys “R” Us and Chuck E. Cheese’s unveiled sensory-friendly events for those with autism.
Update: A spokesperson for Target told The Mighty, “[W]e are committed to creating an environment where our team members and guests feel welcome, valued and respected. As part of that commitment, we empower our store leaders to make decisions that help meet the needs of the guests they serve. The store leader of our Lancaster East store worked with his team and local community partners to create a welcoming shopping event for his guests on the autism spectrum and we applaud his efforts. We don’t have plans to roll these events out company-wide, but are always looking for new ways to further enhance our guests’ shopping experience.”
Photo credit: Mike Mozart
Shopping for someone on the autism spectrum can be a challenge. To make your holiday shopping a little less stressful, we’ve complied a list of gifts that anyone on the autism spectrum, from younger kids to adults, might love to receive. Of course, to truly know what someone could use this year — ask them! Surprises are fun, but don’t feel guilty if you’d rather ensure the person you love will enjoy what you buy them.
Feeling extra generous? Give a gift that keeps on giving all year long. Sensory Theraplay subscription boxes were designed by a pediatric occupational therapist, and feature sensory-friendly toys designed to help develop sensory motor skills. Boxes are meant for kids between the ages of 4 and 8, and feature toys meant for therapeutic play such as putty, textured tactile toys, fidgets, light up toys and craft activities.
Our pick: A Sensory Theraplay monthly subscription ($39.95/month or $113.85 for three months) Boxes ship throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Some of the best holiday gifts are the more practical ones. The Nesel Pack is a sensory-friendly backpack which functions like a weighted vest. In addition to being autism-approved, the backpack has lots of handy features such as a clear ID card pocket, clips for sensory tools and multiple chest straps provide extra security and comfort. It’s a functional gift that’s sure to be appreciated.
Our pick: The Nesel Pack ($99.00). Nesel Packs ship throughout the U.S. and to limited countries internationally.
Looking for a gift that’s sensory-friendly and educational? Try SO Awesome. Mom Marie-Claire Camp created SO Awesome, a line of chewable wallet-sized cards similar to flashcards, to help her sons with their sensory overload. Each card is made from is made from a non-toxic plastic manufactured in the U.S., making them safe for children of all ages. Plus, 10 percent of proceeds are donated to literacy-based nonprofit organizations.
Spectrum Toy Store is the first sensory-friendly toy store in Illinois, and one of only a handful in the U.S., designed for children with developmental disabilities. The store is owned and operated by Jamilah Rahim, a behavioral therapist, who makes sure every toy is appropriate for children on the spectrum. Spectrum Toy Store also offers Care Boxes, a monthly subscription box of sensory toys, products and educational activities. Plus, each subscription gives back to the autism community, with a portion of the proceeds providing scholarships for out-of-school programming.
A fun and functional gift, Senseez Pillows were created by Stephanie Mitelman, as a way for her son – who has sensory issues – to travel around with his favorite vibrating mat. Each pillow is designed to be lightweight, portable and visually appealing for children and teens. In addition to vibration-only pillows, Senseez Pillows has a line of “3-in-1 Adaptables,” pillows that include a weighted pad, hot and cold pack and a vibration device.
Knowing that most products for people on the autism spectrum are geared towards children or their parents, Cynthia Kim, who was diagnosed with autism when she was 42, created Stimtastic – an affordable line of jewelry and toys for autistic adults and teens. Stimtastic offers stim toys, chewable jewelry and fidgets. And, to make your purchase more meaningful, Stimtastic donates 10 percent of all proceeds back to the greater autism community.
Our picks: Starry Night Spinner Ring ($9.50), Chewable Frosted Donut Pendant Necklace ($8.50), Weighted Bunny Lap Pad ($17.50). All orders ship throughout the U.S. and to most countries internationally.
Spread some holiday cheer with a copy of “Aspergers Are Us,” a documentary about a comedy troupe comprised entirely of men on the autism spectrum. The film follows comedians and friends Jack Hanke, New Michael Ingemi, Ethan Finlan and Noah Britton as they prepare for their last comedy show.
In recent years, more and more films have been released that focus on those on the autism spectrum and with other special needs. This rings true for the recently released movie “Po,” which looks at the story of a widowed engineer struggling to raise his 10-year-old son who is on the autism spectrum.
Last year, I did a Q&A with the director of this film, John Asher, and more recently we had the opportunity to watch a screening of it in its entirety. The film, simple enough to say, did not disappoint.
While watching the film, the father (played by actor Christopher Gorham) seemed to resonate with me the most. Growing up on the autism spectrum, it took an entire village to help me when it came to providing me with supports. Most of the time, this was a financial challenge for my family at a time when services were not provided for children on the spectrum due to a lack of awareness and legislation.
To watch this father fight tooth and nail for those supports made me come to an even deeper appreciation of what my parents have been able to do for me in my life. This dad needed to find a village, and that’s something all parents have to find for themselves regardless of having a child with special needs or not. It also taught me the importance of providing supports for single parents so they never feel alone in our communities.
I’d like to commend Asher’s team for making this film a reality. As someone who has consulted on several films now to bring a realistic portrayal of autism and other special needs to the big screen, I’d also like to commend Julian Feder, who played Po, the boy with autism spectrum disorder in the film. I know several children on the autism spectrum today who remind me of the character Julian portrayed. It was wonderful to see him embrace the role as he did with such a beautiful authenticity.
In addition, I’d like to give big kudos to Kaitlin Doubleday (one of my favorite actresses on television today in her role on FOX’s hit show “Empire”) who played Po’s therapist in the film. Many times, therapists don’t receive the praise they deserve in our community for going above and beyond for their kids. I feel Kaitlin’s understanding of autism really shined. Her interactions and relationship with Po reminded me of my earliest days of receiving early intervention at a children’s hospital near my home. There, I built a relationship with my therapist, who helped me build on my social skills to have my first few conversations with my peers and family. I was reminded a lot about that therapist through her character. Thank you, Kaitlin, for taking the time to be part of this film.
If you are looking to learn more about building your own village out there in your own life, then I believe this film is a must-see. Entertaining, resonating and educational. We need more of these films out there today.
Image via Contributor.
A version of this post originally appeared on KerryMagro.com.
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