KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It is World Autism Awareness Day.
Autism affects 1 in 54 children in the United States according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The term basically refers to a broad range of conditions that can make basic daily chores such as cooking or doing laundry a little more difficult for some people. While other people with autism may find it hard to talk to the people around them or go to an amusement park because of the bright lights and noises.
Autism Breakthrough of Knoxville is a nonprofit with a mission to help adults with autism learn to live on their own. The organization also provides a safe community where people can meet and receive a little extra help when they need it. They’ve been doing the work for more than two decades.
Executive Director Kendrise Colebrooke said parents came together in 1999 and formed the nonprofit.
“They sat down and wrote down what they would consider to be utopia for their children,” Colebrooke said. “And out of that, out of that dream, breakthrough was born. So now 21 years later, we have grown exponentially. Over the last 10 years, we support about 100 people every month with autism, and that ranges from all kinds of services.”
Some of those services include community living, independent living, support groups and teaching adults the skills they need to find employment.
Another feature of Autsim Breakthrough is a sensory environment. A sensory environment is a place without lots of noise or light that can protect residents from sensory overload.
That sensory protective equipment is something businesses like Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies are offering families so that they can have fun in a quieter setting.
Once a month families receive a discount on admission on sensory nights.
“We have training on autism spectrum so we can help any families that might be having some difficulties with being overwhelmed and direct them to the correct places or be able to help them a little bit more,” said Crystal Durrett, director of education at Ripley’s.