Moda works to raise awareness and acceptance for people with autism

Earlier this year, Karis Stoudamire-Phillips, vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Community Initiatives at Moda, was checking in on a colleague to see how he and his family had been doing during the pandemic. The colleague shared that it had been a little rocky, especially for his son, who has autism.

But that very afternoon, Stoudamire-Philips got a helpful email from the Autism Society of Oregon. It was full of information about family support groups and resources for families with children of autism.

“It was serendipitous,” Stoudamire-Phillips said. “It was right on time, and I was able to send that right over to my colleague. It really, really helped him and his family.” 

April was National Autism Month, and as part of its Moda Health Month program, Moda again teamed up with ASO to help not only raise awareness of autism, but to encourage greater acceptance of people with autism.

“Awareness is always important, but equally as important is that we want to accept autistic people,” said Tobi Rates, executive director of ASO. “We want to celebrate differences and we want to empower autistic individuals by highlighting their strengths.” 

People with autism and their families face unique challenges. Those can include everything from difficulty communicating and sensory sensitivity to challenges with social interaction. The pandemic has only made it harder for many of them, as it’s caused a change in the routines that people with autism rely on. 

“Autistic individuals need that routine and pattern,” Rates said, “otherwise the world doesn’t make sense for them.”

ASO offers lots of resources for individuals with autism and their families. And even though National Autism Month is over for the year, Moda will continue to bring attention to autism with the goal of raising awareness and acceptance.

“Autism is something that is very prevalent in our society and in Oregon,” Stoudamire-Phillips said. “It’s something that we want to bring awareness to, and we want to help empower those who have autism, too.”

For more information and resources, visit the Autism Society of Oregon’s website.

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