AFO Program Areas Aimed to Serve the Lifespan

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Advocacy & Awareness

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 Development

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 and the Inasmuch Foundation 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.

Oklahoma Autism Center

Through autism screenings, early intervention, and professional development programs, the Oklahoma Autism Center works to improve the quality of life for children with autism spectrum disorder.

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Workforce Development

Post-Secondary Education

The Autism Foundation of Oklahoma is committed to creating more post-secondary education opportunities for students with autism. Seeking input from stakeholders in 2019, AFO developed a ten-year plan that identified key areas that would impact Oklahomans with autism spectrum disorder. Through this process, we learned of an overwhelming desire to increase resources and services for ASD-related issues across the lifespan. Increasing the percentage of adults with ASD who desire a post-secondary education in order to obtain meaningful employment is a primary focus area in AFO’s strategic plan.

AFO has developed a pilot program called APT (Autism Post-Secondary Transition) to help support neurodiverse individuals through the process of transitioning from common education into post-secondary education. APT provides support for students and their families to help them navigate transition, financial aid, college admissions, and on-campus resources. This project also helps autistic students identify achievable life and employment goals and set a path toward gainful employment and independent living with quality of life.

If you are interested in learning more abut this project for your local college campus, contact Emily Scott at escott@autismfoundationok.org.

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 Emily Scott at escott@autismfoundationok.org for more information.

Public Safety

Project: Safe Stop

Project: Safe Stop is a community event that teaches drivers and passengers with autism how to safely interact with police during a traffic stop or event.

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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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Criminal Justice Reform

Autism Training for Oklahoma’s Judicial System

A 2019 study conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Autism Research (CAR) showed that approximately 1 in 5 young adults with ASD will interact with a police officer before the age of 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 a variety of 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. To schedule a training for your staff, contact Emily Scott at escott@autismfoundationok.org.