Celebrate Autism Awareness Month and Autism Acceptance Month: Resources and Events

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Celebrate Autism Awareness Month and Autism Acceptance Month: Resources and Events in Des Moines

April is Autism Awareness Month and Autism Acceptance Month. Autism Awareness Month was started to spread awareness about autism and how it affects individuals, and to celebrate those with autism. The Autism Society of America, as well as several other organizations, changed the name to Autism Acceptance Month to promote more awareness and inclusion for all.

Learn about resources in our community to raise awareness and provide education about autism as well as local events happening this month.

First, check out these amazing infographics shared by Fi & Friends from Neurodivergent Insights by Dr. Megan Anna Neff that share ways we can put autism acceptance into action. Top takeaways include: listening to autistic voices, embracing autism as an identity instead of a disorder, and learning about neurodivergent communication styles. Read more here.

Bookmark these other sensory-friendly/inclusive blog posts:


Autism Resource Fair

Event by Fi & Friends
Date: April 13
Time: 10:00 AM-3:00 PM
Location: Horizon Events Center in Clive

Join Fi & Friends for their 2nd annual Autism Resource Fair. This is a safe and inclusive space designed to connect autistic individuals, families, and educators with community resources and support.

Special Guest Speaker: Kaelynn Partlow, Autism Advocate, featured on Netflix’s Love on the Spectrum

Bowlerama: A-NOD Awareness Bowl

Event by A-NOD For Situational Awareness, LLC
Date: April 14th
Time: 2:00-4:00 PM
Location: Bowlerama Lanes in Des Moines
Cost: $15 with shoes

A-NOD provides advocacy and awareness for families that deal with anxiety, disabilities, and sensory concerns. Join them for two games of bowling, and raffle baskets/prizes and learn more about how their organization can help those in our community.

Autism Basics Webinar Series

Event by Iowa Regional Autism Assistance Program
Dates: April 3rd, April 10th, April 17th
Time: 12:00-1:00 PM

Join this free webinar series for parents or primary caregivers of children with a new autism diagnosis with Jillian Reiher, PhD. Register online.

Camp Courageous Webinar

Event by Camp Courageous
Date: April 18th
Time: 6:30-8:30 PM

Join the Zoom link to learn about programming available through Camp Courageous, located in Monticello, Iowa, for children and youth with special healthcare needs and their families. Register here.

Striding 4 Awareness: 4th Annual Walk

Date: April 20th
Time: 10 AM-2:00 PM
Location: Carlisle High School Track and Carlisle Community Building

From 10 AM-11 AM attend the Resource Fair from a variety of organizations including Childserve, Ask Resource Center, and many others, then raise awareness through the walk at 10:30 AM and raise funds during the lunch and silent auction from 11 AM to 2 PM.

Playground Sensory Wall

Event by West Des Moines Parkes & Recreation/Aquatic Centers
Date: April 23
Time: 6 PM
Location: Raccoon River Park in West Des Moines

Join us for the Public Art Unveiling of the Raccoon River Park Playground Sensory Wall. This event, hosted by the West Des Moines Public Arts Advisory Commission, celebrates the completion of the inclusive playground and coincides with Autism Acceptance Month in April. Join the talented artist behind it, Hilde DeBruyne, and gain insight into the project and its intended audience.

DJ Bingo

Event by Putts & Pins
Date: April 25th
Time: 6:00-8:30 PM
Location: Putts & Pins in West Des Moines

Attend Bingo and Burger’s night 2 for 1 burger and draft specials starting at 6 PM. A portion of all proceeds will go toward benefiting the Autism Society of Iowa. Stay until 7 PM for DJ Bingo, a fun game where you listen to a song clip, match the song with a square, and when you have a bingo yell “DJ Bingo.”

Special Note: PLAYgrounds Cafe for Littles

PLAYgrounds Café just opened in Waukee. They provide indoor play through reserved play sessions and provide a full-service café. Fi & Friends has teamed up with them and will be supplying “Autism Sensory Bags” to help adults and children with sensory needs.


As an occupational therapist, my favorite resource for learning about neurodiversity is through a website called Learn Play Thrive, founded by an occupational therapist. Check out their online continuing education courses for professionals supporting Autistic people which focus on a strengths-based approach.


ASK Resource Center

ASK Resource Center is the state of Iowa’s Parent Training and Information Center for families of children with disabilities. They are a family-focused nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower individuals with disabilities and their family members by providing innovative and collaborative advocacy, training, resources, and support. Its vision is access, empowerment, and acceptance for all.

Autism Society of Iowa

The Autism Society of Iowa creates connections, empowering everyone in the Autism community with the resources needed to live fully. We exist to serve our local Autism community through advocacy, community programming, and creating a more inclusive world.

Fi & Friends

Fi & Friends is on a mission to create an inclusive and supportive environment for individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families. We partner with the community to provide access to events and services through collaborative education with our local organizations by removing barriers and providing resources to support our families.

Iowa Regional Autism Assistance Program

The Iowa Regional Autism Assistance Program (RAP) provides community-based clinical consultation, multidisciplinary care planning recommendations, and family-to-family support for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families.

The Arc of Iowa

The Arc represents, supports, and acts on behalf of individuals and their families regardless of level of ability or membership in The Arc. We connect people with disabilities, their families, professionals, and other supportive individuals in local communities to create hope, growth, and change.

Whitney Alaniz, MOT OTR/L

Whitney Alaniz, MOT OTR/L

Whitney Alaniz, MOT OTR/L is an occupational therapist turned (mostly) stay-at-home mom. She has worked with adults to young toddlers and has a special interest in early childhood development targeting fine motor skills, feeding, sensory processing, and coordination. She loves incorporating this knowledge with her own two little boys through play. When she’s not running after her little ones she enjoys traveling, cooking new recipes and eating chocolate from her secret stash.

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