The Children's Institute Blog

Celebrate Autistic Community Event at The Children's Institute

Posted: Apr 25, 2017 by The Children's Institute

The Celebrate Autistic Community event, slated for April 29 at The Children’s Institute, is anything but your typical event about autism. Just ask Cori Frazer, who heads Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy, which is sponsoring the casual, drop-in event from 1 to 4 pm. Admission is free.

“Our goal is really to celebrate our community and educate people about autistic culture. Autism is often thought of in medicalized terms, but while the importance of support and healthcare for our community cannot be understated, we also want to highlight the cultural aspects of autism,” Cori said. “This event is different because it has had autistic people lead the planning process from the beginning. While we have had wonderful support from our allies in the community, every part of this event has been planned by autistic people with the goal of creating space for autistic community in Pittsburgh.”

The event will feature books written by autistic people, fidget toys, a sensory gym and a place for participants to talk about their special interests and favorite stims. It is open to autistic people, their families and their support systems, such as community organizations and other advocates. Exhibitors include Carnegie Science Center, Horses with Hope, Blackbird Health jiu jitsu, the Education Rights Network and Autism Connection of PA, among others.

“I hate to say, ‘We’re creating a space where it’s safe to be autistic’ but we are doing that in a way a lot of therapeutic environments aren’t,” said Dr. Bethany Ziss of The Children’s Institute, a developmental pediatrician
who also serves as a center steering committee member.

“The event might be for networking, autistic networking, professional networking. It might be to get access to books they normally wouldn’t. It might be to come and play for a half-hour in the sensory gym because it’s fun,” Dr. Ziss said. “It can be all of those things for one person or one family. It can be all of those things for different people.”

“We really hope to reach families as well as autistic people,” Cori added.” We definitely strive to make sure all of our events are accessible cross-disability. This means we have a quiet space, ear plugs available, color-coded communication badges, and we choose event spaces which are accessible to mobility device users. We also endeavor to create spaces which explicitly embrace the way autistic people interact with the world, including stimming, using alternative or augmentative communication methods, differing interests, and anxiety and sensory concerns.”

For more information, check out or visit the event on The Children’s Institute’s Facebook page!

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