For most families going out to stores, restaurants, and fun places like the movies and bowling are easy. However, for families with a child with autism, often outings into the community are a struggle.

We know of one local family whose child couldn’t go to the grocery store without a sensory meltdown. The mom figured out it happened at one store more than others (probably due to the hum of the lighting). So she stopped taking her child to that store and then worked on quick trips to other stores. They started by grabbing just two items and then would check out. Then mom added a couple more things the next time and a couple more, so it soon became a complete grocery store trip.

For my family, we struggled to take my oldest son anywhere. When he was most severe, we stopped going anywhere other than to visit family. Then, as he started improving, we went to stores, restaurants, movies, and other places. We also started taking day trips, which led to taking entire vacations. We had some setbacks but kept trying new ways to support our son. For example, we realized he needed to eat healthy and often, so we would eat breakfast and then leave the house or go after lunch.

Autism Society Family Outings were a big help to our family. The events let us try a new place or fun activity and know we were supported — no matter what happened while we were there. We knew we could go out as a family and feel supported. For example, even at a recent bowling outing, our now 16-year-old son would jump around out of excitement after he threw the bowling ball. It was not only okay — others celebrated his success with him! It was okay to let him be himself, and we enjoyed the time as a family.

Please join us once a month at our Family Outings. They are an excellent way for your family just to be a family in a supportive environment and meet other families, too. We even provide 1-2 staff at each event. Our event staff is teachers, RBTs, BCBAs, and other trained professionals.

See you there! Please let me know if there is something I can do to help your family.

Robin Suzelis, Director

Autism Society of Mahoning Valley