Creating an Autism Friendly Community in New York

Autistic people see and hear the world differently. There are aspects in this world that trigger their sensitivities because of their perception of it. In effect, they share specific difficulties in which people who are not on the autism spectrum can only learn to understand, but not fully grasp. The disability’s effects on autistic people are not the same. Because of this, they require special support, often a personalized one, to live a more fulfilling life.

In New York, more and more programs are popping out to turn the city into an autistic-friendly place. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy in New York is presenting ways to integrate autistic people into society better. An important question to ask is, beyond therapy, what else can be done for them to experience what life has to offer fully?

Many theaters and museums have been producing programs and exhibits that are safe and welcoming for children on the autism spectrum. Airports and stadiums are also incorporating the needs of autistic people into their design by having a quiet space where they can decompress.

On top of therapy, here are other places in New York which can serve as safe spaces for people who are on the spectrum:

  1. Felicity House

For autistic women living in New York, a community was created in the form of Felicity House. The social club offers free membership for diagnosed women, including people who identify themselves as women. Located in the upscale Flatiron District in Manhattan, the community understands the need for holistic wellness of all women, especially autistic women.

Studies show that boys are more likely to be affected by the disability. Thus there is a deep need for women to have a space of their own where they feel welcomed. The luxurious exterior and chic interior make Felicity House appear like an expensive co-working space. Living the life of a woman is difficult, and living the life of a woman with autism, even more so. They can be doubly marginalized—for their gender and their disability. Here is space where they can be themselves without the need to explain who they are and what they need.

  1. Barber’s Blueprint

Sometimes, the disorder tends to turn the simple everyday activity into a difficult one. This includes getting a haircut.

In downtown Manhattan, a barbershop called Barber’s Blueprint teamed up with autism advocates KultureCity to create a sensory-inclusive experience for kids who are diagnosed with autism disorder. The owner, Arthur Iskhakov, considers his role as a parent as the inspiration behind the service. Despite not having kids on the spectrum, he believes that no kid has to feel isolated.


Iskhakov, along with a couple of staff, is trained and certified to be of service to autistic children. Since children can be overstimulated in a barbershop with its many sounds and sensations, Barber’s Blueprint does not use hairdryers and razors in handling their young clients. They also utilize music and tools such as fidget toys to make his clients feel at ease.

  1. Ernst and Young

Nowadays, many businesses offer jobs to people with autism disorder. Major companies like Microsoft, Ford, SAP, and Ernst and Young, to name a few, have recognized the potential of people on the spectrum who have strong cognitive skills. Human Resource departments have redesigned their employment process to accommodate probable employees.

Ernst and Young accept autistic employees, not only in their New York office but most especially in Philadelphia, where the company considers it as the Center of Excellence.

Creating a more inclusive community is a product of empathy. May you participate in the culture of understanding.

The Author

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