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Rhinelander Business Certified "Autism Friendly"

WAOW Television

Rhinelander is home to the first certified autism friendly business in Central Wisconsin.

Tom's Drawing Board is a working studio that has a shop and classroom, and it was recognized by the Central Wisconsin Autism Societyas an autism friendly business during a celebration Wednesday evening.

The business in Rhinelander is the first in the Central Wisconsin area, and second in Wisconsin to be recognized as autism friendly.

Some of the steps that need to be met to be certified as autism friendlyinclude:

  • The business adheres to and meets the standards for its particular service area (retail, movie/entertainment venue, restaurants) by self-reporting via an online test.
  • The company will be required to take the test every two years, as well as make sure that its customer service staff (those working directly with customers/clientele) understand autism and adjust their efforts to best help a person living with autism. (The Autism Society provides online courses about Autism to help with this).

"I hope all businesses in the surrounding areas everywhere just takes on this because this is such a great thing to do," said owner and operator Tom Barnett. "It's about inclusion, about offering services for children that would normally not have the opportunities because of their autism. And I think it's fantastic and I think all businesses should do this."
Tom says he is already offering autism friendly classes and plans to have a sensory sensitive Easter Bunny for picture opportunities around Easter. 

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