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New autism awareness initiative kicks off

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Albany/HV: New autism awareness initiative kicks off
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DUTCHESS COUNTY, N.Y. -- A new initiative designed to help families with autistic loved ones feel more comfortable in the community kicks off in Dutchess County.

The Anderson Center for Autism Consulting Services and Coppola's Restaurant teamed up Sunday to launch the new project, called Autism Supportive Environment. The program aims at giving local businesses the basic supports to make families with autistic members comfortable on a typical outing in their community.

Businesses taking part in the Autism Supportive Environment undergo training from the Anderson Center. Coppola's is the first business to join the initiative. The Anderson consulting team educated the restaurant's staff about autism, assessed the environment of the restaurant and provided adaptive tools that would help an individual with autism feel more comfortable in the environment.

For those familiar with the diagnosis, the hard work that goes into Autism Supportive Environment is well worth the rewards.

Nancy Osborn, of the Anderson center for Autism said, “Some of the families here tonight are families I work with. So to see them actually come out and have a meal as a family is a huge, huge accomplishment."

Jeff Constable, a parent of an autistic child said, “"We would be interested in coming out to more events, sure. I would like the opportunity to get him out into the environment and see what the big world is like."

Coppola's Restaurant plans to host dinners every few months where families with autistic loved ones can meet and network.

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