By Ali Nicole

To meet the needs of Sussex County community members with autism and provide them with a fun night of roller skating, Autism Delaware is hosting a Sensory Friendly Skating event. On Feb.22, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., the roller skating event will take place at Skateworld in Laurel. Families with an individual (youth or adult) who has autism searching for a minimally stimulating event to enjoy together can join in.

The Sensory Friendly Skating event is made possible by Autism Delaware, a local non-profit organization devoted to helping people and families affected by autism, per their mission statement. According to Annalisa Ekbladh, Policy & Family Services Director with Autism Delaware, during the event they will work to “provide an environment that is more suited to the needs of individuals with autism.” The music will be played at a lower volume, lights will be dimmed, flashing lights will be kept at a minimum or not utilized, and it is expected to be less crowed than a typical open public skate.

This event doesn’t require an entry fee and skate rentals are $5. Registration is available online through eventbrite. Each family planning to participate is encouraged to sign-up prior to attending. While the event is free, donations are welcome to support the organization and can be made in person during the skate night, as well as online at the agency’s website ( Donations support Autism Delaware in offering more events like these as well as a variety of other resources.

In addition to Sensory Friendly Skating, Autism Delaware hosts approximately 150 events yearly throughout the state including holiday parties, bowling nights, and other engaging community activities. “We hope that parents will take advantage of the opportunity to come and meet other families with children and adults with autism and if they can’t make it to this event they can check our events calendar for upcoming events,” Ekbladh remarked about Sensory Friendly Skating and other happenings the organization puts on. Beyond fun outings, they also offer outreach, education, and vocational and navigation services.

Liz Carlisle, Executive Assistant & Publicity Coordinator, provided this statement about autism spectrum disorder and Autism Delaware: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that includes impairment in social interaction and social communication. Individuals with ASD also exhibit repetitive patterns of behavior or interest that limit everyday functioning. An intellectual or language impairment is also possible. All these symptoms will first appear in early childhood.

In the Delaware public school system in 1991, 152 students received an educational classification of autism, but for the 2018-19 school year, 2,357 students had this classification. While this number reflects an increase in the number of students, it omits the adults and children who are not currently being served by the school’s special-education system.

Autism Delaware is an independent statewide agency that provides resources and support to individuals and families affected by ASD.  Its programs and services are supported by state contracts, fundraising events, and generous donations from individuals and corporations across Delaware. More information is available at