Brittany Wall and her son Tucker take a stroll in downtown 100 Mile. Wall hopes to raise awareness of autism among the business community (Kelly Sinoski, 100 Mile Free Press photo)

Mom aims to heighten autism awareness

A 100 Mile mom plans to distribute laminated “cheat sheets” to local businesses in an effort to raise awareness of autism in the community.

Brittany Wall is working with Blue Sky’s Autism Services’ Krysta Stewart to develop the laminated cards, which will offer key steps that businesses and their employees should take if a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder becomes upset in their stores. The tips include giving the parent and child more space and drawing other customers’ attention away from them so the child can de-escalate and calm down, which can sometimes take hours.

“Most people are amazing and open-minded and accepting when they have all the information,” Stewart said. “Autism is like an invisible disease and you can’t see it so a lot of people will judge you or think it’s just a meltdown. It’s not. These are really big emotions and really big things happening.”

Wall came up with the idea after experiencing a traumatic situation while shopping recently with her six-year-old autistic son. They were in a crowded store when he had a meltdown trying to reach for a toy on a top-shelf. With so many people around them, Wall wasn’t able to take him aside and calm him down.

The situation spiralled out of control, with an employee ushering them out of the store and following them to the car, making both Wall and her son even more upset. In many cases, the car is a safe space for autistic children.

“All she had to do was stop staring at us and keep working with the people, distracting them,” Wall said. “When he sees me getting upset, it just snowballs.”

READ MORE: Clinton woman aims to raise autism awareness through car decals

One in 68 children in North America has autism, yet the neurological disorder, which affects social and community skills, is not always understood by everyone in the community, Stewart said. Although most businesses in 100 Mile are fairly accepting, she said, some parents will isolate themselves at home for fear of their child becoming overstimulated or having a meltdown in public. Wall, for instance, said she won’t shop at that business again because it was too traumatic.

The women hope the cheat sheets will provide more comfort not only to store employees and their customers when faced with such a situation but will result in more parents of autistic children feeling better about shopping in the community. They would like to have cards left by the register for easy access, while also having some on hand to pass out to employees or the public if their child is over-stimulated.

Wall is also reaching out to the BCEdAccess – Action for Equitable Access to Education to see if there is an opportunity to offer presentations in schools to teach kids about autism and other disabilities.

“Due to COVID and restructuring in stores, using only one entrance, it creates more stress in these kids that they don’t understand,” Stewart said. “All of these new rules and regulations our children have no understanding of. We don’t want people to turn a blind eye and ignore us but to give us space.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

100 Mile House

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Just Posted

Low-mobility access at Mountain Spruce Community Park

Thanks to a grant from the Cariboo Regional District, the pathways around… Continue reading

Old bars, new jail at 108 Heritage site

There’s a new sheriff in town at the 108 Heritage site.

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Highway 99 closed due to Rockslide near Lillooet

Crews are currently working to clear the road

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Most Read