Autism community in Austin connects and spreads important message

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(ABC 6 News) – As a kick-off to Autism Awareness Month in April, Austin’s Hormel Historic Home hosted a day of celebration for people on the autism spectrum to socialize and play.

Kids and young adults had the chance to participate in cool activities including laser tag, virtual reality simulators, and a truck full of video games. People who came out say while these games are fun, this day is really special for a lot of different reasons.

Laughter filled the Hormel Historic Home, not just because everyone was having a great day, but because people say they felt safe, included, and accepted.

“When you’re on the spectrum, socializing is really hard. So, when you find other people who also like the video games, or wanting to run around and play laser tag with you, or even just a private moment where you’re doing VR on your own, that’s all a really good experience for them,” said Sage Jungwirth. “It gets them out of the house, gets them in the world, and it’s a safe place to do it.”

Jungwirth is a volunteer here with the program and is on the Autism spectrum herself.

She knows firsthand how spending time with other people, makes all of the difference.

“When we all start laughing and talking, and they really start to come out of their shell, that’s how I know I’ve really hit gold. I’m like, ‘yes, they are in their element and they feel comfortable with me and it’s really rewarding,'” Jungwirth explained.

People in attendance at the celebration say that spreading awareness is extremely important.

“Support people on the spectrum,” echoed Justin Farnsworth, one of the events participants. “If someone seems stressed out, give them a hand. Not many people do that. It takes a lot to recognize it, but when you do, you understand and they need that support.”

Jungwirth says the day was more than just fun, it was a day that everyone could just be themselves.

“Their sense of normal is validated, and nobody is telling them it’s not normal, they can just be them,” said Jungwirth.

The next big event for Autism Awareness Month is on April 23rd, called the ‘Stepping Out for Autism Walk’ in Austin. This event funds many of the autism programs here in the community.

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