A New Home for AutismOklahoma

November 17th, 2014
A few years ago, a parent approached us seeking programs for her adult son with autism.  She had travelled across the United States to observe […]

A few years ago, a parent approached us seeking programs for her adult son with autism.  She had travelled across the United States to observe what other states were doing and had collected her ideas in hopes that an Oklahoma-based organization would emerge to help her son and others like him.  This parent, like many of us, wanted to commit her time, resources, and passion to make a difference for her son.  Since it is likely her son will outlive her,  she wants to ensure that her son to have a safe refuge with relationships and meaningful activities that will enrich his life.  Over the past several years, the families of AutismOklahoma has stepped up to answer this call.  As a result, a parent gifted us with a new home!  Our new home is an 8,500 square foot warehouse at 806 Dean McGee in downtown Oklahoma City.  Our new home will have an official opening in January 2015.  The building is currently undergoing an over $200,000 renovation funded by the owner which includes a new electrical system, heat and air, new bathrooms, and restoration of its beautiful red brick walls and iron tresses.

AO Building in Downtown OKC

AO Building in Downtown OKC

The building will “open” in two phases.  In Phase 1, the building, with a capacity of 300, will serve as an event center and as a rental space for downtown events.  The rental income will help us cover expenses and prepare for building ownership.  AutismOklahoma will also use the building as a meeting place and as a creative studio for art and film clubs and other interest experiences.  Our goal for the building is to provide a place for building safe relationships and encouraging communication in interest areas for persons with autism.  The building will also give us opportunities to enhance some of our current programming including Comicamp, Swanky, Dr. Who, Star Wars, Legocamp, Bee’s Knees, Invisible Layers, teen groups, adult groups, and college groups and others.  New events in drama, karaoke, and movie events are also anticipated in Phase 1.

Phase 2 of the project  involves an extensive repurposing of the structure, which will require a capital campaign to fund it. The designs have been conceived and created by an AutismOklahoma steering committee and architect, Tony Blatt of Hornbeck & Blatt.  The remodel will include multi-purpose rooms for interest groups, a theater, a stage, conference areas, kitchen, art gallery, movie sets, and an outdoor patio area.  This building will also provide opportunities for families to play together and for students at nearby high schools and colleges to receive training and service hours as they interact with kids and adults who have autism.

AutismOklahoma has seen great success with interest groups; they help people with autism to get involved, begin to communicate, build confidence, and transform lives.  We can’t wait to see the difference we can make with a building to host these programs so that more people can participate.

But it all starts with the PieceWalk. Our primary source of program funding is raised by the PieceWalk.  Please join us and keep our momentum going;  by sign up for the PieceWalk!  It will take all of the autism community, along with friends, family, businesses and foundations to fulfill our dreams.  Every time a team signs up our confidence is raised, helping us to believe that we can do this, TOGETHER!