Treehouse Cafe a welcoming space for all

The Geelong Advertiser ran this article on the opening of the Treehouse Cafe Geelong, the first Autism Friendly Cafe. Scroll down to see Princess Aspien’s video shot at the opening.

Transcription of the article:

A Geelong coffee spot is spruking itself as Australia’s first Autism-friendly Cafe. The Treehouse Cafe Geelong, tucked away in little Ryrie st, officially opened as an autism-friendly cafe yesterday morning. Access Your Supports director Ralph Menchise said the cafe would provide a quiet atmosphere, carefully designed menu, a sensory room and trained staff.

“We looked at a number of different settings and things like that, but this is truly Australia’s first autism-friendly cafe.”, Mr Menchise said. “Because we’ve got space designed, we’ve had nutritional consultants come in and look at our menu and also feedback from people with an autism diagnosis. It’s nice and quiet, from our little sensory area where kids can have a little chillax, but also staff have been trained to understand that kids will have good and bad days, and if there’s a bit of a meltdown happening, that’s OK.”

Autism advocate Chloe Hayden – known to her thousands of social media followers as Princess Aspien – was in attendance to cut the ribbon to the cafe on Monday. Ms Hayden said cafes were often difficult spaces for people on the autism spectrum. “It’s really hard for people on the spectrum to find a cafe where they’re able to go to, where sensory things aren’t overwhelming. I guess cafes aren’t really made for people on the spectrum.” ,she said.

“There’s so many aspects that can make it really difficult and I guess a place like this means that we have the opportunity to go somewhere where we do feel welcome and safe and where we have the opportunity to be ourselves.”

The Treehouse Cafe will donate 50c from every drink sold to the Treehouse Foundation, an autism family support group.

The Treehouse Cafe is located at 73 Little Ryrie St.