Skip to main content

Autism Foundation of Oklahoma Celebrates Certification of Arts Council OKC as Autism-Friendly Business

By News, Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Autism Foundation of Oklahoma Celebrates Certification of Arts Council OKC as Autism-Friendly Business

 

[Oklahoma City, OK]— The Autism Foundation of Oklahoma is thrilled to announce the successful certification of the Arts Council Oklahoma City as an autism-friendly business. This achievement marks a significant milestone in our ongoing mission to foster inclusive environments across the state.

Through dedicated efforts and comprehensive training, the Arts Council OKC has demonstrated its commitment to accessibility and inclusivity, ensuring that the arts are accessible to autistic Oklahomans. This certification signifies a major step toward creating a more welcoming community.

“One of the core tenets of our work is that the arts are accessible to all. This is most evident in our All Access Arts programs led by Nick Caudle and Liliana Gordon, who led the team in this certification process. On behalf of our board and staff, we are so proud to be an autism-friendly business, and we commit to incorporating the policies and procedures we learned in future execution of arts events and experiences,” said Executive Director Angela Cozby.

“We commend the Arts Council Oklahoma City for their dedication to becoming an autism-friendly organization. Their commitment sets a benchmark for inclusivity within the cultural sector and beyond,” said Kyle Britt, workforce development coordinator at the Autism Foundation of Oklahoma. “We look forward to seeing the positive impact this will have on our community, making the arts more accessible to all.”

The Autism Foundation of Oklahoma invites other organizations to follow in the footsteps of the Arts Council OKC by participating in our certification program and committing to inclusivity and accessibility for all individuals.

For more information about becoming an autism-friendly certified business, please contact Kyle Britt at kbritt@autismfoundationok.org.

About the Autism Foundation of Oklahoma:

Improving the lives of Oklahomans with autism and their families across the lifespan.

www.autismfoundationok.org

About the Arts Council OKC:

https://www.artscouncilokc.com/

For media inquiries:

Kyle Britt

Kbritt@autismfoundationok.org

 

Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma Grants $50,000 to Autism Foundation of Oklahoma

By News, Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma Grants $50,000 to Autism Foundation of Oklahoma

[Oklahoma, Feb. 20th] – The Autism Foundation of Oklahoma (AFO) is thrilled to announce the generous donation of $50,000 from the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma. This significant contribution will directly support the Foundation’s initiatives on early childhood and public safety programs for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma’s commitment to philanthropy and community betterment aligns seamlessly with the AFO’s mission of improving the lives of Oklahomans with autism and their families across the lifespan. This substantial grant will enable AFO to expand and improve its early childhood programs, fostering a supportive environment for children with autism and their families by training childcare providers.

Additionally, the funds will contribute to AFO’s public safety initiatives, which aim to increase awareness, understanding, and response effectiveness in interactions with individuals on the autism spectrum. Training and education programs for law enforcement, emergency responders, and the broader community will be strengthened, creating safer and more inclusive communities for individuals with ASD.

“We are honored to give a grant again this year to the Autism Foundation of Oklahoma,” said John Logan, Executive Director of the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma. “AFO is providing vital resources across Oklahoma, and we are proud to support their efforts.”

“We are deeply grateful for the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma’s commitment to positively impacting the lives of Oklahomans with autism. Their gift will allow us to expand our reach and effectiveness in supporting early childhood development and enhancing public safety for the autism community,” said Emily Scott, Executive Director of the Autism Foundation of Oklahoma.

The Autism Foundation of Oklahoma sincerely appreciates the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma for its invaluable support. This collaboration exemplifies the power of community partnerships in creating meaningful change and fostering inclusivity for individuals with autism.

To learn more about the Autism Foundation of Oklahoma, please visit www.autismfoundationok.org.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Carley Marissa Dummitt

Marketing & Community Outreach Coordinator

cdummitt@autismfoundationok.org

News Feature: Bill Seeks to Improve Interactions Between Oklahomans with Autism and First Responders

By News, Press Release

Watch the story HERE

If a new bill passes next legislative session, Oklahomans with autism may soon have the option to share their diagnosis on their driver’s license or state ID.

State Rep. Nicole Miller (R-Edmond) tells Fox 25 she wants to improve the relationship between Oklahomans who have autism and first responders.

“Really to kind of prevent the escalation of there being a misunderstanding there,” State Rep. Miller said.

House Bill 3671 would give Oklahomans with autism the option to have an identifying mark on their driver’s license and state ID.

“To help them communicate or indicate to law enforcement in any interactions that they might communicate differently than many other people would.”

Miller got this idea from Emily Scott.

“This is all so personal to me,” Scott said. “I have an adult son on the spectrum who I want to keep safe.”

As someone who also serves as the executive director for the Autism Foundation of Oklahoma (AFO), Scott says people with the diagnosis are seven times more likely to interact with law enforcement than the general population.

“National data tells us that about one in every three autistic teenagers are getting a driver’s license. So with an ever-increasing population, we want to make sure to keep Oklahomans with autism safe.”

It’s why the bill touches on having safety experts train law enforcement officers to identify and effectively communicate with someone who has autism. The legislation says the Department of Public Safety (DPS), in consultation with Service Oklahoma and Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET), must develop a program.

“With all the different pieces of information,” State Rep. Miller said. “Just education piece of communication disorders, and what that looks like.”

Scott says having everyone on the same page during this situation is so important.

“One can frankly Google ‘autism and police interactions,’ and see a lot of concerning stories nationwide of instances that have happened. So we also view this as a preventative measure. We don’t want stories like that coming out of Oklahoma.”

This bill would also require Service Oklahoma to create a statewide registry that officers could access. It would have license plate and registration information, emergency contacts and any other information that may help first responders when interacting with someone who has autism. Someone who submits their information to the registry would be allowed to revise, update or remove themselves at anytime.

Service Oklahoma shared the following statement with Fox 25:

Service Oklahoma administers driver license services on behalf of the state. We will continue to do so in accordance with all laws and statues passed by the legislature.

DPS tells Fox 25 “we don’t comment on bills that are not DPS bills.”

AFO shared the following facts about autism and first responder interactions:

  • According to the CDC, 1 in 36 children and 1 in 45 adults in the U.S. have autism.
  • In the U.S., almost 20% of youth with autism report having police contact by age 21.
  • A 2019 study of autistic adults with few support needs found that 53% of participants had four or more interactions with the police in their lifetime.
  • A 2020 study found that officers who had more knowledge about autism felt they were better equipped to handle interactions with autistic people.
  • Research indicates that persons with developmental disabilities, including autism, will have up to seven times more contacts with law enforcement than a member of the general population. These contacts can be public safety emergencies or criminal justice situations.

 

Miller Files Bill Creating Optional Autism Designator on Licenses, State IDs

By News, Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:

Carley M. Dummitt

cdummitt@autismfoundationok.org

Miller Files Bill Creating Optional Autism Designator on Licenses, State IDs

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahomans with autism may soon have the option to include an identifying mark on their driver’s licenses and state IDs to help better inform law enforcement officers how to approach a situation.

House Bill 3671, filed by Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond, would create an optional identifying mark to indicate that the person has autism, which Oklahomans may choose to participate in. Miller led an interim study on this topic in October to hear from advocates and law enforcement officials.

“Law enforcement may interpret some behaviors common in people with autism as noncompliance, which could lead to unnecessary escalation and put people at heightened risk,” Miller said. “This voluntary designation would help law enforcement better understand how to approach a situation and reduce stress for the driver and their loved ones.”

Data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that one in 36 children and one in 46 adults in the U.S. have autism.

Emily Scott, the executive director of the Autism Foundation of Oklahoma, said one in three people with autism has a driver’s license. The bill also includes state IDs.

“People with autism are seven times more likely to have police interactions than a neurotypical person,” Scott said. “This bill aims to provide critical, up-front information to law enforcement officers and first responders for safer and more supportive interactions. Knowledge is power, and plenty of research indicates that communication tools, such as what is being proposed in this bill, and agency-wide autism training improve outcomes for both parties.”

HB3671 is eligible for consideration in the upcoming legislative session, which begins Monday, February 5.

###

Skip to content