By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – When Joe Yapp was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, he refused to be hugged.

Now, thanks to Fraser, he can finally both give and receive one.

Joe was hypersensitive to sounds and other sensations, and “would fly off the handle at any given moment,” according to his mother, Mary Yapp.

She and her husband turned to Fraser to help with their son’s needs.

For years, the couple would drive Joe to a Fraser clinic in Minneapolis for afternoon day treatments.

The commute was difficult and time-consuming, but absolutely necessary.

“My husband who worked in St. Paul would leave his downtown office, drive to Woodbury from daycare, drive back to Minneapolis to drop him off at Fraser and go back to work in St. Paul,” Mary Yapp said. “Then he’d repeat the trip at the end of our son’s appointment.”

On June 25, Fraser opened a location in Woodbury. The facility is the organization’s seventh mental health clinic in the Twin Cities.

The state-of-the-art clinic is built with sensory perception of the building’s environment.

Families will notice a soothing environment created specifically for children fighting hypersensitivity, which is often associated with autism.

“It touches your soul in a way,” Mary Yapp said.

Steven Orfield helped design the clinic to reduce the noise of the air conditioning system.

“It’s the first in the world to use these standards,” Orfield said.

The clinic also has soft walls colors, murals and carpeting. Even the lighting schemes depend on diffused light, much of it natural daylight.

The purpose is to minimize the slightest distractions.

The layout of the hallways and corridors are also easier to navigate for a child with autism.

“We wanted everyone from the children to their families to feel that this is a building where they are and know where they’re going,” said Brian Larson, a senior project designer with Pope Architect.

Fraser’s new location will make receiving services easier for families like the Yapps.

“We cannot say thank you enough to the donors who have made this possible,” Mary Yapp said.

Fraser serves 10,200 individuals and their families each year with programs and services.

Bill Hudson

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