Danbury to Celebrate Autism Awareness with a Series of Events at Public Library and 6th Annual Autism Awareness and Acceptance Ceremony

On March 29th, Danbury Library will host the City's 6th consecutive annual Autism Awareness and Acceptance Ceremony, joining families and Autistic individuals, community agencies, activists, dignitaries, and the City of Danbury together to highlight autism awareness and acceptance with events for all ages throughout the afternoon.

By Tribuna Staff

The event, traditionally held at City Hall, will take place at Danbury Public Library to celebrate the grand opening of its brand new Sensory Space, located on the Junior floor of the library.


"We are so grateful to the Danbury Library for responding to the needs of our community and making the dream of a sensory room accessible to all in Danbury a reality. We are also grateful for the help of our municipal and state leaders," said Emanuela Palmares, organizer of Danbury's Autism Awareness and Acceptance Ceremony. 


In 2018, Palmares approached Danbury Library Director, Katie Pearson, with the idea of creating a sensory room in the library. The following year, the Danbury Library was awarded a construction grant from the Connecticut State Library to renovate their children’s floor. The remodel included the construction of two glass walls to create an area that would be transformed into the Sensory Space. The Danbury Library Board of Directors generously provided matching funds for the grant. 


The space was furnished by the Friends of the Danbury Library, a non-profit volunteer organization that raises funds to support the Danbury Library, and by a fundraising campaign led by Palmeres. 


The completed Sensory Space contains furniture and equipment designed to provide a variety of visual, tactile, auditory, and proprioceptive stimuli to those with special needs. The goal of the space is to create an environment for all ages that engages the senses, encourages communication and social interactions, relieves stress and anxiety, and produces feelings of calm and well-being.The space is reserveable and by appointment only.


"A core tenet of the Danbury Library's mission is to be a welcoming destination and responsive to the varied needs of our city's diverse community. With the addition of a Sensory Space, the library will be a model for all public places in creating a supportive environment for the sensory-sensitive population and promoting inclusivity. There are undeniable educational, social, and emotional benefits of a child visiting the library regularly, and we are committed to enhancing the accessibility of the Danbury Library for all children," said Katie Pearson, Director of Danbury Library. 


The Danbury Library will host events for all ages throughout the afternoon of March 29 in conjunction with the Autism Awareness and Acceptance Ceremony.


The schedule of events will be as follows:


3:30 PM – Screening of Deej: A film about a non-speaking young man who dreams of autistic civil rights. The documentary film Deej, with its insider view of autism, challenges us all to live with inclusion. Free. Registration link: bit.ly/DeejMovie


4:15 PM – Story time with a Danbury police office: Books will focus on autism awareness and acceptance. Free. Registration link: bit.ly/PoliceStorytime


5:00 PM – Autism Awareness & Acceptance Ceremony: A sensory-friendly ceremony led by Caio Leaf as master-of-ceremonies, featuring remarks by Jeremy Klein Farrell, autistic individual and professional autism advocate, recognition of organizations that support inclusion by Mayor Dean Esposito, and an exceptional musical performance by Amanda Higley, Autistic performing artist. Attendees with special needs are free to vocalize and walk around. (Recommended for all ages). For more information about the ceremony, contact Emanuela Palmares at Emanuelapalmares@gmail.com.


6:00 PM – Sensory Space Public Viewing – Community members are invited to tour the new space to learn about its contents, features, and functionality.


The Danbury Library would like to thank our community partners: the Friends of the Danbury Library, the Danbury Library Board of Trustees, CT State Librarian Deborah Schander, Director of the Division of Library Development Dawn La Valle, and community leader Emanuela Palmeras for making this space possible. 


For more information on the Sensory Space, please visit our website danburylibrary.org/sensory-space or contact Chelsea Levine, Project Coordinator, by calling (203) 797-4505 x. 7702, or via email at clevine@danburylibrary.org



According to the Autism Society, Autism is prevalent worldwide, although tracking rates can vary due to differences in reporting. In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its Autism prevalence report.

  • The report concluded that the prevalence of Autism had risen to 1 in every 44 – more than twice as great as the 2004 rate of 1 in 125.
  • Children who receive an Autism diagnosis by age 4, are fifty times more likely to receive services. 
  • The 2021 report noted that more White and Black children were identified with Autism than Hispanic children.
  • The 2020 report was the first to indicate that, on average, White and Black children were equally as likely to have a diagnosis by the age of 8 years, in the sample studied by the CDC.
  • Previous studies have shown that children of color may still receive their diagnoses later than White children. Stigma, lack of access to healthcare services due to non-citizenship or low-income, and non-English primary language are potential barriers to the early identification of Hispanic children and children of color with Autism. 
  • Currently, boys are also approximately 4 times more likely to have an Autism diagnosis than girls of the same age.
  • However, recent research suggests that girls may not display characteristics of Autism like boys and might go undiagnosed because of their different presentation.


For more information visit autismsociety.org