The Effect Hurricane Harvey Has Had on Individuals with Special Needs

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Hurricane Harvey has wrecked havoc on Houston, Texas. This category 4 storm has resulted in deaths, major flooding, and displaced people whose homes are either destroyed or unsafe to live in. The effects of the storm have undoubtedly been difficult for the many people living in its path, but for those with special needs like autism, the disaster can be particularly devastating.

It makes sense as to why this would be the case. Those with autism tend to struggle with change, and the disaster brought by the hurricane obviously leads to some pretty major changes. Families may need to be rescued from their homes and evacuated to safe shelters.

Flickr/Texas Military Department: Texas National Guard aiding citizens in areas of heavy flooding

Flickr/Texas Military Department: Texas National Guard aids citizens in areas of heavy flooding

That’s traumatic enough, but it’s even worse when you consider that these shelters can be brightly lit and can get pretty crowded and noisy, leading to threats of overstimulation at every turn. And as wonderful as it is that these shelters are providing food for displaced families, many with autism have restricted diets due to sensory sensitivities.

Luckily, there are caring souls who are jumping in to help the special needs victims of Hurricane Harvey. The Autism Society of Texas, for example, is offering resources and support. They are working to provide these families with tools like weighted blankets, stuffed animals, fidget toys, and noise canceling headphones. To help with dietary issues, they are distributing grocery store gift cards so families can buy foods their loved ones will eat.

Flickr/NOAA Satellites: Image of Hurricane Harvey taken on August 26

Flickr/NOAA Satellites: Image of Hurricane Harvey taken on August 26

But the Autism Society isn’t the only organization helping victims of the storm. GreaterGood.org is also stepping up to the plate by working with partners who provide search and rescue services, shelter, and medical assistance. We are also working to provide families with helpful tools like toys and books—providing a bit of stress relief and respite during this difficult time.

Want to take part in these efforts? Learn how you can help on the next page!

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A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.