Why the White House Glowed Blue on Monday

Clay is 13 years old and has never flown in an airplane. His mom, Jennifer, avoided taking him to the airport because he gets overly anxious when he is among big crowds and lots of noise. This year, his grandmother was celebrating her 80th birthday in Hawaii and she wanted all of her grandchildren to be there. With the help of a kind TSA agent who understood autism (ASD), Clay was able to surpass the line and go through security faster. The agent also treated Clay like a typical person, which doesn’t happen often enough for those with ASD. Most people don’t understand the disorder or don’t know how to proceed in these situations.

Monday, 4/2, was World Autism Awareness Day and April is Autism Awareness Month, a time when awareness and education about ASD are encouraged. Landmarks around the world glowed blue in support of the cause, including Niagara Falls, the United Nations, the Empire State Building, the White House and many state government buildings throughout the country! During this time, organizations hold a variety of events and educational activities to help the public learn more about ASD, which currently impacts 1% of the world population, according to the CDC (although it seems like much more!)

A New “Yelp” Type App for ASD

Similar to Clay in our example, many people with autism and with illnesses such as PTSD experience heightened sensitivity to loud noises and crowds, and often struggle to find calm and support in large venues. A new app is being introduced soon to help families in these situations.

Julian Maha, CEO of KultureCity, a nonprofit dedicated to building inclusion for people with autism, introduced the KultureCity app to make it easier for people to find sensory-inclusive spaces across the U.S. KultureCity provides photos, videos, and information on the kind of amenities and services available, and the ability to rate and comment on these places. Those using the app will also have access to an in-app messaging service to seek out tips for people who have visited places in the past, and can communicate in a forum about shared experiences of navigating sensory needs. The app will even include tools and information to help bring more sensory inclusion to your town!

“It’s like Yelp for sensory inclusion,” Maha says. “Families will be able to know that they can travel to these places and their children or loved ones will be accepted.”

The app will cost $0.99 to download, which is low cost enough to be accessible to all families, but will hopefully deter people from downloading the app just to troll. Maha believes that keeping everything on the app, rather than setting up a community page on Facebook, will allow KultureCity more monitoring power over potentially harmful comments.

Creating More Sensory Friendly Places

Prior to developing the App, Maha was also responsible for helping to create some of the sensory-friendly spaces it features. For instance, last year, Maha and KultureCity worked with Quicken Loans Arena–home to the Cleveland Cavaliers-to create a sensory room and train staff, so more people with sensory needs can attend and enjoy games. More NBA teams have gotten on board the program and gone through training with KultureCity as well. Around 19 NBA arenas, as well as a handful of NFL and MLB stadiums, and public amenities including zoos and aquariums, have rolled out sensory-inclusive programming, and Maha hopes to get even more facilities to join.

Other Helpful Apps

If you or a loved one has ASD, and you choose to use this app, I hope it works out well for you! If you are looking for more ASD apps, below are some helpful resources:

Autism Speaks list of apps
Autism Apps/Touch Autism in the App Store
A Day in Your Shoes disability resources
Mashable’s list of 13 ASD apps top picks
Lifewire’s 11 Apps that help communications, daily life, and education

Special Needs Planning for Loved Ones with ASD and other Special Needs

If you or a loved one is disabled, it is wise to consider creating a special needs trust. A special needs trust is an essential tool to protect a disabled individual’s financial future. Also known as “a supplemental needs trust,” this type of trust preserves eligibility for federal and state benefits by keeping assets out of the disabled person’s name. Special Needs Trusts fall generally into these categories:

Third-Party SNTs that one person creates and funds for the benefit of someone else.

First-Party SNTs (also called d4a trusts) that are created for the person with special needs using that person’s own money. People with disabilities can create their own first-party special needs trusts without having to rely on others.

Pooled third-party trusts are an alternative to setting up your own special needs trust if you can’t come up with a good choice for trustee or if you are only putting a small amount of money into the trust. A pooled trust can be a first-party SNT or a third-party SNT.

For more details on the types of special needs trusts available, click here.
When it comes to special needs planning, long-term care planning, incapacity planning, or estate planning, we can guide you through this process. Please contact us to make an appointment for a consultation:

Fairfax Special Needs Attorney: 703-691-1888
Fredericksburg Special Needs Attorney: 540-479-1435
Rockville Special Needs Attorney: 301-519-8041
DC Special Needs Attorney: 202-587-2797

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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