A local rafting business in Merlin wants to make access to businesses easier for families who have loved ones on the autism spectrum. So Orange Torpedo has teamed up with a non-profit called PAL out of Arizona.
PAL's goal is to make it easier for families to know what to expect when they patronize various businesses.
"PAL works with families impacted by autism and other intellectual developmental disabilities by partnering with the places where they want to go and need to go," explains PAL's CEO Adam Isaacs. They do this "By creating digital tools to help them prepare for these new away from home experiences. And then digital guides and other resources to support them along the way."
Orange Torpedo's managing partner, Erik Weiseth understands first-hand what it's like for people on the spectrum because his son has autism. "Seeing all the gifts and things that he has to contribute to the world and yet seeing how hard it is for him to sometimes integrate into places and go to places," says Weiseth. "It really makes me want to have a business that is very approachable, very friendly to people on the spectrum."
One of the main ways PAL makes visits easier is by creating videos, which are available on their website palexperiences.org. This way, families already know what to expect and there are no surprises when they go somewhere.
"They demonstrate that in the video so that when people go to the events, they have that expectation so it's not a surprise," explains Weiseth. "And sometimes those surprises can be something really jarring for somebody on the spectrum."
Weiseth says he hopes society can recognize that different does not mean bad. He says instead of trying to fit those on the spectrum into the box we need to break it down so that everyone fits in.