Autism Family Night is a night in which families affected by autism are able to come together and enjoy a dinner at a local T.G.I. Friday’s without feeling stigmatized or embarrassed. It was created in 2007 by Alexandra Abend, a current senior at Duke University. The inspiration for this event comes from experiences involving Alexandra's youngest brother with autism in which his unpredictable behavior left her family uncomfortable and unable to eat out at restaurants together. Alex was inspired to create a stigma-free environment for families with similar experiences, so that families affected with autism could enjoy a family dinner out. Because the restaurant is open to the general public, the event helps to raise awareness among those not affected by autism through exposure and providing information.
This coming year, Autism Family Night will be held on Tuesday, April 24. It will be the 6th annual event and is the second year that Alex’s sorority, the Beta Rho chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta at Duke University, has taken over the event. With the help of many T.G.I. Friday’s, this event is rapidly growing. In its first year, Autism Family Night was only held in New Jersey, but with the success of the event, it has expanded to all of Connecticut, North Carolina, and sections of New York and Pennsylvania. Now, T.G.I. Friday’s is known as a “safe place” to eat amongst families affected with autism. Autism Family Night has also inspired others across the country to create similar events, increasing awareness and acceptance of families affected by autism.
Learn more about the event at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Autism-Family-Night/109798009097110.
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