Vanderbilt Kennedy Center TRIAD celebrates Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month, and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (VKC TRIAD) is preparing a series of events to increase autism awareness and promote acceptance and inclusion in the community.

“While we work year-round with our community partners, Autism Awareness Month in April is important as it gives us the platform to magnify the voices and highlight the abilities and needs of people with autism and their families,” said Lauren Weaver, TRIAD organizational outreach coordinator and behavioral/educational consultant.

Details of these events and links to available supports are posted on the VKC Events Calendar or TRIAD’s Community Engagement Initiative Events Calendar.

Saturday, April 2, is World Autism Awareness Day, and to celebrate, TRIAD is teaming up with Tennessee Brew Works for a fundraiser called “Paint the Taproom Blue.” There will be live bluegrass music from 4 to 6 p.m., and $1 for every beer sold that day will go toward the TRIAD Families First program. For those who cannot make it to the April 2 event, Tennessee Brew Works also will be donating $1 for every beer sold on Sundays in April to the Families First program. Tennessee Brew Works is located at 809 Ewing Ave. in Nashville.

If you are looking for an opportunity to take the whole family to the theater, mark Saturday, April 23, on your calendar. Tennessee Performing Arts Center will be showing a 10 a.m. modified performance of “Egg,” a clever, engaging story told exclusively through physicality, illusion and music. The production draws children close to the life of the little bird characters in their nest and offers a story of friendship, wonder and tender loving care. This performance is free and open to the public, but prior registration is requested. The registration link will appear on the TPAC website and the TRIAD calendar closer to the event. For more information, contact the TPAC Box Office at (615) 782-4040.

The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere will hold an Autism Awareness Day on Sunday, April 24. There will be family-oriented activities throughout the zoo, including animal experiences and games to celebrate autism. Supports will be made available on TRIAD’s Resources Directory. The zoo is located at 3777 Nolensville Pk. in Nashville. For more information, call (615) 833-1534 or visit the Nashville Zoo website.

Finally, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts will hold an Autism Affinity Day on Tuesday, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Parents can complete a brief survey to receive a voucher for free adult admission to the museum. Children 18 and under are always free. Visit the Frist Center website for more details.

Beyond April, TRIAD Director A. Pablo Juárez is excited about the involvement of all of the institute’s community partners throughout the year.

“Nashville is remarkable for many reasons,” Juárez said. “Among them is the fact that some of the most prominent arts, education, athletic and community organizations across the city have been able to quickly develop accessibility, acceptance and inclusivity initiatives focused on better supporting individuals with autism and other disabilities and their families.

“In this way, our hometown is taking the initiative in learning how to be a stronger and more reliable community for everyone,” he said.

For more information about TRIAD’s Community Engagement Initiative, contact Lauren Weaver at