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SAFE: Supporting Autism Friendly Environments


The Virginia Tech Center for Autism Research “SAFE: Supporting Autism Friendly Environments” project provides greater access for individuals with autism to attend local venues and participate in community activities. True to Virginia Tech’s land-grant mission, this outreach initiative provides enrichment activities to local families to enhance the quality of life for individuals in our community.


Goals for the SAFE project are twofold: (1) to provide everyday access to entertainment venues for individuals with autism and their families; and (2) to create a culture of awareness and acceptance in our community. While increasing access for meaningful participation in the community by individuals with autism, SAFE also teaches empathy, creating a community of care and compassion – qualities greatly valued by Virginia Tech.

Project Activities

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disability typically causing significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. These challenges can make it difficult for individuals with autism to attend a parade, enjoy a fireworks demonstration, or experience entertainment outlets like going to the movies, watching a sporting event, eating out at a restaurant, going bowling, trick-or-treating, and so forth. The SAFE project endeavors to partner with community organizations, businesses, and Virginia Tech to strategize low or no cost interventions that can increase access for individuals with autism and their families or friends.

SAFE programs with current/potential partners include: The Lyric Theatre, NRV Superbowl, Blacksburg Baptist Church “trunk or treat” event, Hokie Bug Fest, VT Athletics, VT Center for Performing Arts and the Moss Arts Center.


Check out the SAFE Facebook page for updates on news and events!

For more information, contact the SAFE coordinator, Dr. Amy Azano at or 540-231-8889 or the VTCAR Director, Dr. Angela Scarpa at or 540-231-8747.


Contributions may be made to the VT Center for Autism Research SAFE Program and mailed to the address below.  Checks should be made payable to the “Virginia Tech Foundation Inc.” and include "VT Center for Autism Research-SAFE Program" in the memo section.

Virginia Tech
Office of Gift Accounting
University Development (0336)
Blacksburg, VA 24061


To make an immediate contribution using your credit card, you may use Virginia Tech's secure (online form) or contact the Office of Gift Accounting at 1-800-533-1144. If using the online form, type in the amount of your gift and click on the "Enter your own" (blue button to the right of the drop down menu for selecting which area will receive your gift).  Then type in "VT Center for Autism Research-SAFE Program" and complete the rest of the form.

For more information or to learn about other ways to give, please contact Jenny Orzolek, Director of Development for the College of Science, by phone at 540-231-5643 or by email at