Southern Minnesota organization raises awareness for autism by hosting sensory friendly trunk-or-treat

Updated: Oct. 24, 2019 at 10:10 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Thursday, the Southern Minnesota Autism Coalition partnered with Dave’s River Valley Harley-Davidson to host a sensory friendly trunk-or-treat so that kids with autism could enjoy Halloween.

Parents of kids with autism said that welcoming environment is important for many reasons.

“It’s not necessarily getting all the candy. It’s just seeing all the characters and everybody welcoming them," Sheri Dorn, a mother who has kids with autism, said.

Southern Minnesota Autism Coalition Co-chair Jess Dowd added that sensory friendly events are important because kids with autism can prepare for what’s coming next.

“And then, it’s an environment for families not to have to worry about meltdowns. Like if it happens, no one’s going to judge them," she said.

Sensory friendly events can be especially important during the holidays.

Dave’s River Valley Harley-Davidson Owner Dave Desmarais also has a child with autism.

“And, as you learn about these sensory things, it’s the big crowds that kids don’t care for, a lot of times. They want to feel comfortable. They want to feel just protected," he said.

He said every child with autism is different.

“Each parent has their own challenge and each child has their own challenge with that. And, it’s good to learn who your child is and this helps the children be comfortable in a surrounding where there’s people just like they are.”

Dorn’s advice for parents with kids with autism during the holidays is to focus on how their child is feeling.

“You know, if they can’t handle those big celebrations, I mean, you just got to go with the kids," she said.

The coalition said if organizations are interested in hosting sensory friendly events, they can reach out to them at

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