Autism Family Night is a night in which families affected by autism are able to come together and enjoy a dinner at a local T.G.I. Friday’s without feeling stigmatized or embarrassed. It was created in 2007 by Alexandra Abend, a 2012 Duke University graduate.
The inspiration for this event comes from experiences involving Alexandra's autistic brother. Eating out was difficult due to his unpredictable behavior and a lack of understanding from other diners. Because of this, Alex was inspired to create a stigma-free dining environment so that families affected with autism could enjoy a dinner out. Because the restaurant is open to the general public, this event also helps to raise awareness among those not affected by autism.
This coming year, Autism Family Night will be held on Tuesday, April 29. It will be the 8th annual event and is the fourth year that Alex’s sorority, the Beta Rho chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta at Duke University, has taken over the event. With the help of many T.G.I. Friday’s, this event is rapidly growing.
In its first year, Autism Family Night was only held in New Jersey, but with the success of the event, it has expanded to sections of Connecticut, North Carolina, New York, Virginia, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada.
Now, T.G.I. Friday’s is known as a “safe place” to eat amongst families affected with autism. Autism Family Night has also inspired others across the country to create similar events, increasing awareness and acceptance of families affected by autism. Please go to our facebook page Autism Family Night for more information about the T.G.I. Friday's in your area.