Is Tampa an Autism Friendly City?

Thomais, the Ambassador of Autism Tourism, loves to visit Curtis Hixon Park in Tampa —

Now, she can handle the open space, she can enjoy the playground, she loves to look at the river…  As a parent, knowing what my child can and cannot handle, allows me to offset the challenges and focus on the strengths and above all, have fun!!!

Other families with children in the autism spectrum (non-verbal, wanderers, cannot handle diverse sensory input) — cannot enjoy this park because it is too open, it does not have shelter. If they attempt a visit, they must have a stringent safety plan in place.

I do not say – do not go – on the contrary, I am an avid  supporter of exposing our kids to various situations. But we must always have a plan in place. Bring food, fluids, toys, trinkets, noise canceling headphones, changes of clothing (especially if they get wet in the fountains). Consider arriving early!

Own your experience, make it special!

 

Tampa’s Mayor supports the initiative to turn Tampa into an Autism Friendly city…
A meaningful and overwhelming endeavor no doubt.
Challenging , not impossible…

I have written to him countless times congratulating him for some of the efforts made and reminding him this will only work if the desire to realize this grandiose project stems from the understanding that Autism Friendly must come from those not needing the friendliness and understanding about the diagnosis and its diverse representations…

I have also reminded him that liaisons with business and academia do not necessarily make Tampa an autism friendly city because most of these individuals do not live autism 24/7. Also, they are not the ones interacting with the community in general to remind them why it is important to practice autism friendliness. Added to the fact, present efforts have not promoted sending that message.

I told Mayor Buckhorn: “the day you visit one of the local parks and sit, interact with families caring for kids/adults with severe autism, listen to their reality and practice inclusion, with TV reporters around you — that day I will consider Tampa an #Autism Friendly city!”

I urge families to write to Mayor Buckhorn – bob.buckhorn@tampagov.net  – and share your insight and experience as a care giver of a child/teen/adult in the autism spectrum. Let him know how he can really create an Autism Friendly city, one enjoyed and of benefit to the community in its entirety…

Curtis Hixon Park