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New autism center promises ‘one-stop hub’ for services

A new autism center opens in Rochester Thursday.
A new autism center opens in Rochester Thursday.

A new center for people with autism and their families has opened in Rochester.

The Golisano Autism Center is a “one-stop hub” for services and support for people with autism, said Ann Costello, director of the Golisano Foundation.

Putting services like speech and occupational therapy, employment training and fitness activities under one roof will be a big help to families who often find themselves driving across town for those appointments, said Daniele Rostan, an occupational therapist with the Mary Cariola Children’s Center.

Rostan moved into her new office at the autism center earlier this month, and she was already working with a patient as the center’s opening ceremony got underway Thursday.

Across the hall from her office, a darkened “sensory room” provided a space for people to gain respite from overstimulation of their senses. Spots of dully colored light played slowly across the ceiling as a bubble-filled water tank droned quietly.

“It’s calm. It’s focused. It’s quiet,” Rostan said.

The building houses the offices of 14 organizations that provide services to people with autism.

“Because each child with autism can be so incredibly different, each individual may have a huge variety of need,” Rostan said. “To be able to have all of the services to meet those needs in one place is hugely important to parents.”

One of those parents, Tamika Robinson, said the center will be more than just a provider of services for her 4-year-old son, Chayse.

“Sometimes he goes places where other kids don’t understand his disability. But here, people understand him,” Robinson said. “These are people that specialize in his diagnosis. So it’s a place that he could possibly call his second home.”

Tom Golisano, the chairman of Paychex, donated $3 million toward the launching of the center in May 2017. Golisano Foundation leaders are still raising funds to support its programs.

The building was designed to be friendly to people with autism, including quiet heating and air conditioning and clear paths from place to place, the foundation said. It’s open 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

Video by Austin Radford:" target="_blank">

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk.

Brett was the health reporter and a producer at WXXI News. He has a master’s degree from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.
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