What do you think of when you think of Phoenix, Arizona? Hot, dry weather? Deserts? Resorts? How about this: that it is considered the most autism-friendly city in the world?
Chances are that that wouldn’t necessarily pop into your mind. But, thanks to a PBS Newshour feature this week, hopefully it will soon become widely known.
As part of its “A Place in the World” series, PBS Newshour gave viewers a glimpse into the lives of individuals with autism in Phoenix, where two organizations are working to reshape the public’s perception of autism to create a more inclusive community.
It was a particularly special segment for Aunt Laurie’s, as one of our special friends was featured. Can you guess who? They make a delicious homemade treat found in our Morning Goodies Gift Basket…that goes well with tea or coffee…that originated in Italy…
SMILE Biscotti! In the segment, PBS introduces us to its founder, Matt Resnik, an autistic individual, and his parents, who helped launch SMILE Biscotti (SMILE stands for “Supporting Matt’s Independent Living Enterprise.”) Its mission is to help people with autism “strive for advancements in life skills development, social connections and pathways toward greater independence” – a mission that is also shared by the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC), which Matt’s mother helped found.
“What people like Matt and others need, and what we need, are communities, communities that include friends, people to support us, health care, jobs, recreation, places of worship, transportation,” she says in the segment.
In other words, what we need is a world that not only accepts and embraces these individuals, but truly values and appreciates them as much as anyone else. A world that, you might say, extends a smile to everyone and anyone.
Early last week, I received a handwritten note from Matt himself that read: “Thank you for supporting my bakery business. Your order helps me and my co-workers with autism to live independently. Thank you! –Matt”
Now, how can that not bring a smile to your face?
<em>Aunt Laurie’s is incredibly proud to support SMILE and we hope you’ll join us in bringing a smile to someone else’s face by building your own gift basket with biscotti or purchasing our Mornings Goodies Gift Basket.</em>