Autism Acceptance Family Fun Day is April 15 at World’s Fair Park

Two organizations providing resources for those with autism in East Tennessee are planning a sensory-friendly event for families aimed at shifting the conversation around autism from awareness to acceptance.

The Autism Acceptance Family Fun Day, presented by U.S. Bank, will take place 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, April 15, at the World’s Fair Park in downtown Knoxville. Activities, games, vendors and food trucks will offer families a chance for play and connecting. The two-acre festival lawn includes water fountains and a playground in a beautiful setting.

The event is the first of its kind in Knoxville presented by the two organizations, the Autism Society of East Tennessee and Autism Breakthrough of Knoxville. The two organizations serve an estimated 3,400 people with autism spectrum disorder in the East Tennessee region.

Tents on the World’s Fair Park grounds will feature activities for all ages, areas for providers of services, as well as sensory calming areas.

April is Autism Acceptance Month, renamed from the previous Autism Awareness Month in 2021. The observance is aimed at supporting people with autism, celebrating their differences and combating the negative stigma of autism.

About 1 in 44 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Autism prevalence has increased 178% since 2000. Autism spectrum disorder encompasses a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.

The Autism Society of East Tennessee and its 75 local affiliates serve more than half a million members of the autism community each year in 36 East Tennessee counties. The society aims to create connections, empowering everyone in the autism community with the resources needed to live fully.

“We envision a world where everyone in the autism community is connected to the support they need, when they need it – including education, advocacy efforts, and supports and services throughout the lifespan,” said Kandis Burney, the Autism Society executive director.

“It’s a privilege for U.S. Bank to sponsor this year’s event,” said U.S. Bank branch manager Crystal Pierce. “We are dedicated to supporting our communities so this will be a great way for our employees to be on-site and lead activities while helping raise awareness for such an important cause.”

Breakthrough, founded in 1999 by parents of children with autism, is changing the way autism services are provided in East Tennessee. Breakthrough offers a variety of services that enable adults with autism to lead purposeful lives. These services include respite and recreation, employment, independent living and a variety of therapeutic services. New therapies being offered include occupational, behavior, speech language, behavior and physical therapy.

A sensory room at the Autism Breakthrough of Knoxville office. The nonprofit offers a variety of support services to help adults with autism lead purposeful lives.

Autism Acceptance Family Fun Day is free. Those interested in attending may click on this link for admission tickets that come with a free goodie bag: Other free tickets are available on this link after the supply of goodies bags is given away.

For more information, see the Autism Society of East Tennessee website,, and the Autism Breakthrough of Knoxville website,

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Autism Acceptance Family Fun Day at World’s Fair Park on Saturday