In December 2020, Indianapolis city-county council member, Ali Brown, launched the Indy Autism Project, a project to increase community awareness in Indy’s neurodiverse community. Brown has a young son on the autism spectrum, and saw a need for neurodiversity in the city of Indianapolis.
The program is modeled after one in Mesa, Arizona, the first autism-certified city in the country. Indianapolis hopes to become the second in the nation, and making Indianapolis a safe place to live, work, and visit for those on the spectrum.
What is the Indy Autism Project?
There are six initiatives wrapped within the Indy Autism Project.
Training police officers, fire department and other first responder agencies to recognize and respond accordingly to those on the spectrum. Departments will receive sensory items and nonverbal books to assist in communication and interaction with someone on the autism spectrum.
Parks and Rec
Training staff to recognize a person on the spectrum or with any other communication deficit, and help employees with ways to best meet their needs. Creating sensory friendly parks and developing programs within the parks system that are inclusive to all is also on the list of goals.
In a partnership with Easterseals Crossroads and the Indy Chamber, the Indy Autism Project hopes to train local businesses to be accredited, autism-friendly locations. Not only will they serve customers in a more understanding way, but hiring practices will change with additional sensory friendly workspaces and accommodations for those on the spectrum.
IndyGo will be training staff on the best ways to work with those on the spectrum, as well as ways to reach out to the community and be a transit-friendly resource for all.
Travel and Tourism
We’ll soon see a visitor’s guide through Visit Indy, specifically based on ASD-inclusive sites and amenities for visitors with autism. Visit Indy will be working with various hospitality agencies to receive training and to become certified hotels, restaurants and more.
Above all, the Indy Autism Project hopes to raise awareness for the one in 68 children living with autism in the country. Those children will grow up to be adults who will live, work and play in cities across the globe, and each person is affected differently.
It’s Brown’s goal, along with many other partners, to create a world in which those diagnosed with autism will be able to succeed in our community and in the city of Indianapolis. For more information, visit indyautismproject.com.