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New book by teen author celebrated at the Mall of America, complete with “silent disco” dance party for kids on the autism spectrum

Andrew Brundidge, a 17-year-old Park High School senior, will read his just-released children's book “Andrew Does His Dance” — and bust out some of his best dance moves — at a celebration at the Mall of America this weekend.

 

Families with children on the autism spectrum are invited to be special guests at the book release, to be held on Sunday, April 21 from noon to 3 pm. in the Rotunda at the Mall of America.

 

Marking Autism Acceptance Month in April, the book release combines reading, dancing, games and prizes, designed specifically for the enjoyment of children on the spectrum.

 

“This will be an awesome day!” enthused Andrew. “I’m glad to spread awareness and acceptance about autism. I wrote my book to show how everyone can find their own special place in their family.”

 

Andrew is not only a first-time teen author, but also the big brother of three siblings with Autism Spectrum Disorder. His new picture book brings attention to the role of often-overlooked non-disabled siblings in families like his.

 

The first 50 children to arrive will be given a copy of “Andrew Does His Dance” and a wristband to enjoy the rides at Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America.

 

Joining Andrew will be his mother, author and broadcaster Sheletta Brundidge. She has written three groundbreaking children’s picture books based on the experiences of his sister and two brothers with autism. The popular books have gained acclaim for featuring children on the spectrum as lead characters.

 

Everyone at the Saturday MOA celebration will be invited to dance along with Andrew at a “silent disco” dance party, with music and a DJ. Children with sensory sensitivities will get personal headphones with adjustable volume controls.

 

This accommodation will allow every child to experience the fun at their own comfort level, without feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated.

 

“We want all people in the community to experience events at the Mall of America in a manner that is comfortable for them,” said Sara Duhrman, corporate social responsibility director at Mall of America.

 

“This book release and silent disco with Andrew and Sheletta Brundidge will be joyful, a celebration. It will be nothing but fun, an opportunity for people to come as their authentic selves and feel safe.”

 

Duhrman added that the staff at the Mall of America has participated in ongoing training to better understand neurodiverse people and their families. She said she hopes that an event like the book release and silent disco will aid MOA employees in using and applying this knowledge in practical ways.

 

“Events like this help us educate our team members, from ride the operators to the security officers. Being able to broaden our vision helps us better see, serve and welcome all families in our community,” she said.

 

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