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Some local businesses plan to adapt for kids with autism

Amanda Simmons says she hasn’t been able to go out to dinner in two years.

“Every outing or whatever is a big task,” said Simmons.

That’s because her three year-old son, Hunter, has severe autism, and most public places aren’t equipped to handle that.

“He doesn’t like change. The loud lights, sounds, too many people. So we have to deal with meltdowns a lot out in public,” said Simmons.

Until now…

Simmons started a petition for local businesses to become more friendly to those with sensory issues.

And within just a couple months, she has a few businesses on board.

“I’ve been in this business for 30-something years so I see a lot of families that come out and have that to deal with. And I know that it can be hard. I see it,” said Katherine Davis, server at Rene's Family Restaurant in East Berlin.

The restaurant is one local business committed to making these changes.

They plan to offer quiet seating with dimmed lights, along with a special menu to accommodate people with autism.

“Anything that the restaurants, or anyone who is involved, that can do hands-on to ease that, I think can benefit everyone,” said Davis.

Simmons tells us Giant Supermarkets has also committed to making changes in their bathrooms at two of their locations, so she can take her son grocery shopping.

But it doesn’t stop here, she says.

She hopes to get these changes made not only in Central Pennsylvania, but across the state and even the country.

“I’m fighting basically for the ones who don’t have a voice. Who can’t say their problems. You just kind of have to guess and figure it out,” said Simmons.

If any other parents of children with autism would like to join Amanda’s initiative, you can contact her on facebook at this link: https://www.facebook.com/amanda.odonnell.73

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