For women diagnosed with autism, it often feels like there aren’t enough spaces they can go to be themselves and enjoy the company of other women with autism. Felicity House, which is located in New York City’s Flatiron District, aims to be a space where women with autism can bond with each other and participate in events.
It’s 100% free of charge to be a member of Felicity House. With almost 200 members and growing, the social club has a variety of rooms specially suited to the needs of women with autism. Rooms can be sound free (“like the quiet car” says executive director Beth Finkelstein) and are furnished in soothing tones. Fidget toys are located in every room for anyone to use. There are also rooms where visitors can go when they want alone time.
“There is really something to be said about being in a place where you don’t need to translate yourself,” said Christine, a 29-year-old member. “Walking into Felicity House was weirdly like walking into a place where everyone spoke my language.”
Most of the research on autism is focused on males, who are diagnosed more frequently. As a result, women with autism say that support groups and social clubs are hard to find. Places like Felicity House, which is a treatment-free zone without any clinical programs, are very needed in the female and nonbinary autism community.
“A place like Felicity House is totally unique,” said Vanessa Hus Bal, a psychology professor at Rutgers University. “It’s really powerful to offer somewhere where the whole group is focused on just women.”
“Everybody needs a place where they can focus on social relationships, where they can focus on taking a deep breath and decompress after a long day of work—where they can feel like they belong,” Finkelstein said.