By: Deanna Rebro | Category: Special Interest | Issue: March 2010
Kim Grayson leads the effort to support autism socially with S.A.S. It Up!, an evening of fun, fashion, food and entertainment to benefit the Autism Center of Tulsa.
The 1988 movie “Rain Man” called attention to autism on the big screen. Now Kim Grayson wants to call local attention to the disorder, to help those afflicted right here in Tulsa.
On Thursday, April 8, S.A.S. It Up! will be presented at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. It’s an evening of spring boutique fashions, samplings from a variety of local cuisines and great music to benefit the Autism Center of Tulsa (ACT).
The purpose of S.A.S. It Up! is to bring awareness to ACT and raise funds for its programs and services. The medical community knows little about the causes of autism, although a genetic disorder has been suggested. In general, the public knows even less about this condition, which has no cure, but whose diagnosis will affect more children this year than AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined.
Many people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have unusual ways of learning, communicating or reacting to different situations.
One common denominator across the entire spectrum of disorders is lack of social skills. Kim saw this in the early development of her five-year-old son, Asher, who was diagnosed with a form of autism when he was two. As children with autism develop into adulthood, they face greater obstacles with adult activities and relationships.
Kim’s concern for Asher’s social development, and other children just like him, led her to begin the local crusade to support autism socially – S.A.S. She hopes to make this premier event an annual fundraiser.
It has been noted time after time that early and intensive education and social mentoring can help these children develop skills and reach their full potential. Kim wants to set up group outings with local businesses so that children who have autism can have the learning opportunities and experiences they need – under appropriate supervision and direction – to begin their social journeys. These experiences include things such as ordering a meal at a restaurant or getting on an airplane.
Kim’s efforts, as well as the ACT’s screenings, consultations, information kits, support groups, resource library, parent and educator workroom, and training programs, all require money. And they require people who can handle the emotional challenges. “Sometimes there’s a meltdown in dealing with our situation,” explains Kim. “My husband and I both have to back up and rethink on Asher’s level. It’s good to have other people who understand these feelings.”
A fun evening was Kim’s way of bringing together a network of parents with children who have autism, health care providers, educators, local business owners and people who want to help.
S.A.S. It Up! begins at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 8. Casual spring fashions from local boutiques will be showcased, while attendees enjoy finger foods from Cosmo Café, Callaloo’s, Crusty Croissant and Louie’s. All the while, the Full Flava Kings will provide music to relax with and music to move your feet. A silent auction will include a time share in Branson, jewelry, and other valuable items that will go home with the highest bidders.
General admission to S.A.S. It Up! is $40 per person. VIP admission, with preferred seating, drink tickets and a special gift bag, is $60 per person. The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is located at 111 East First Street (upper level), between Cincinnati and S. Boston Ave. in downtown Tulsa. For more information, call Kim Grayson at (918) 284-4161.
Deanna Rebro has worked in the publishing industry 30+ years, including eight years writing for Value News. She has also worked in real estate for the past six years. Deanna graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio with a B.A. in Journalism. Outside of work, she serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for Pet Adoption League. “Every story I write is a learning experience,” she said.