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AFO Program Areas Aimed to Serve the Lifespan

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Advocacy

The Autism Foundation of Oklahoma is passionate about supporting efforts that make Oklahoma a more inclusive, autism-friendly state. By providing education and forming meaningful partnerships, we lend our voice on a number of issues that affect autistic lives such as improved access to healthcare, inclusive classrooms, neurodiverse workplaces, and safer communities.

Early Childhood

Training Oklahoma Childcare Providers to Support Children with Autism (TOCA)

Early childhood care and education provide a vital role in the development and well-being of children. The Training Oklahoma Childcare Providers to Support Children with Autism (TOCA) project is a three-tiered pilot program with the overall goal to increase quality childcare services for Oklahoma children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related disorders. AFO is proud to partner with Sunbeam Family Services, the Inasmuch Foundation, and the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma to support the first step in creating a statewide blueprint for supporting childcare centers in providing quality services to children with ASD and related disorders.

Our first training, Supporting Oklahoma Children with Autism in the Child Care Setting, is available and certified through CECPD for two hours of formal training.

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Take the Child Care Provider Survey here.

Take the Parent/ Caregiver Survey on Child Care here.

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Workforce Development

Employer Training

Interested in building a more inclusive workplace? The Autism Foundation of Oklahoma provides training and business solutions to employers who are committed to diversity and equity. Learn about the benefits of hiring people with autism, how to attract and interview neurodiverse candidates for your company, and how to foster an inclusive work environment that includes and respects individuals with cognitive differences. Contact Leah Harris at lharris@autismfoundationok.org for more information.

Public Safety

Project: Safe Stop

Project: Safe Stop is a community event that gives drivers and passengers with autism the opportunity to practice safe traffic stops. This event also educates officers about autism and helps local law enforcement agencies meet the autistic citizens living and working in their area.

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Sensory Kits for First-Responders

Designed in collaboration with local law enforcement, AFO’s First Responder Toolkits are a helpful tool for local police, firefighters, and EMTs to help them better assist Oklahomans with autism and other special needs. These kits contain items such as a weighted blanket, noise-canceling headphones, sunglasses, fidget toys, and a non-verbal cue card to help children and adults cope with the stress of an emergency situation.

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Justice System Reform

Autism Training for Oklahoma’s Courts

A 2019 study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Autism Research (CAR) showed that approximately 1 in 5 young adults with ASD would interact with a police officer before age 21. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that individuals with disabilities, including those with autism, are five times more likely to be incarcerated than people without disabilities.

Researchers agree that most individuals with high functioning ASD are law-abiding citizens who are more likely to be victims of crimes than commit them. However, they are still seven times more likely to intersect with the criminal justice system than individuals without ASD (Berryessa, 2014).

The court’s understanding of ASD can make an enormous difference in various juvenile, family, and criminal law cases. AFO now provides judges, lawyers, and other judicial professionals needed access to ASD education and experts with knowledge and experience in the field of developmental disabilities and mental health.

UPCOMING TRAININGS

To schedule a training for your staff, contact Leah Harris at lharris@autismfoundationok.org.

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