Welcoming Spaces

In 2017, Monarch launched its Welcoming Spaces Program. Having served thousands of individuals with autism in a variety of settings, we fully recognize the many challenges and pitfalls imposed by a community outing. There are so many things to consider in the community – is the space chaotic, are the sights and sounds extreme, are the expectations unknown, are the next steps unpredictable, are the communication outlets unavailable, are the social encounters overwhelming? It’s no wonder when given the choice to stay home or visit the community, many choose to stay home.

However, with the proper planning and supports, these roadblocks can be removed. Everyone has a unique way of processing information. An individual with autism can have a very successful, enjoyable, and engaging experience in the community when we make the environment more welcoming and predictable. That’s where Monarch’s Welcoming Spaces Program comes in. Our professional staff work with families and community-based organizations (museums, libraries, restaurants, shopping malls, sporting/concert venues, theaters, medical offices, airports, hotels, travel destinations, recreation facilities, schools, daycare centers, and more) to: 

  • Deliver autism-specific sensitivity training to employees
  • Evaluate spaces and make sensory and visual support recommendations
  • Design customized sensory rooms
  • Develop customized visual, social, communicative, sensory, and behavioral supports
  • Assemble personalized “grab-and-go community toolkits” (e.g., sensory supports, noise canceling devices, timers, visual supports)   
  • Develop marketing and communications materials (e.g., web copy, press releases, social media posts) to announce and promote our client’s use of autism-friendly accommodations
  • Facilitate “pilot/test visits” for individuals with autism, administer surveys, and track data to demonstrate the benefits of autism-friendly accommodations  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 in 36 school-aged children, across all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, have been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Just as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, Monarch’s Welcoming Spaces Program hopes to increase the number of community-based venues that are able to successfully meet diverse sensory processing needs, provide helpful communication outlets, and deliver predictability for a neurodivergent world. We’ve experienced first-hand how successful these supports can be, and we want to unlock the potential for as many welcoming spaces as possible.    

For more information, please call 216-320-8665 or email rickelmanm@bellefairejcb.org 

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