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autism

Tianna Manon/WXXI News

The old Gates police substation in Westgate Plaza has sat empty for roughly a decade. But on Thursday, the Autism Council cut the ribbon for the station’s new life as the Autism Family Information and Referral Services Center.

The center is a one-stop shop for families, educators and people with autism who need help with education, employment or wellness. It doesn’t provide specific services, but staff there meet with drop-in visitors to send them where they need to go.

The tragic death of a city teen is causing a community to rethink how it assists families with autism. On this edition of Need to Know we learn about the work to bring support and crisis services to those in need.

Also on the show, it’s known as one of the least diverse professions in our nation. We’ll hear about efforts to diversify the local legal field.

And from a distance, her pieces look like landscape paintings. Up close, something else jumps out at you. Don’t miss the work of artist Victoria Connors.

We discuss disparities in autism diagnosis and treatment. The death of Trevyan Rowe has pushed the Golisano Autism Center to speed up plans to provide some services to families of children with autism in the City of Rochester.

According to the CDC, about 1 in 59 children has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and the percentage of autism among African American and Hispanic children is nearing the percentage in white children. But African American and Hispanic children are less likely to receive ASD diagnoses and intervention services. Why? Studies point to a number of factors, including parent education, difficulty navigating the medical system, cultural barriers, and more.

We talk to the team at the Golisano Autism Center about how they hope to reduce those gaps in the near future. In studio:

Matt Savage is not just a musical prodigy who has become an international talent; he's one of the inspiring autism stories on the arts scene.

Savage will play two shows at the opening night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival; then he's heading off on a kind of world tour.

He joins us to discuss his talent, and how to learned to cultivate it, despite growing up without much music in the house in his early childhood. Our guests:

Matt Savage is not just a musical prodigy who has become an international talent; he's one of the inspiring autism stories on the arts scene.

Savage will play two shows at the opening night of the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival; then he's heading off on a kind of world tour.

He joins us to discuss his talent, and how to learned to cultivate it, despite growing up without much music in the house in his early childhood. Our guests:

The Reel Mind Theatre and Film Series is underway. It features films and performances that address the stigma attached to mental illness and behavior disorders, while providing messages of hope.

One of the films in this year's lineup is the documentary, Deej; it tells the story of David James Savarese, a non-speaking young man with autism. Savarese joins us in studio to share his remarkable journey and the challenges he has overcome. Plus, we get a look at what's next in the series. Our guests: 

  • Dr. Larry Guttmacher, M.D., clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and co-director of the Reel Mind Film series
  • David James Savarese, poet, co-producer of Deej, and advocate for people with autism 
  • Dr. Lori Jeanne Peloquin, Ph.D., clinical psychologist in the Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Lynne Fisher, education program administrator for NAMI-Rochester

Tianna Manon/WXXI News

Staff at the Mary Cariola Children’s Center school say emergencies can be particularly scary for young people with autism. The center specializes in working with young people who have disabilities and on Thursday, teacher Denina Williams Goings organized a Sensory Friendly First Responders Event to help the students get more comfortable with emergency responders and their equipment. 

The death of 14-year-old Trevyan Rowe has shocked Rochester, and it has sparked calls for change in local school policy. How did it happen? What can be fixed, and who is ultimately accountable?

Our guests discuss it:

  • T. Andrew Brown, vice chancellor for the Board of Regents
  • Melanie Funchess, member of the Rochester City School Board and director of community engagement for the Mental Health Association of Rochester
  • Terrie Meyn, vice president of strategic initiatives for Happiness House and CP Rochester

We begin 2018's Dialogue on Disability Week with a conversation about autism. New research published in JAMA indicates that the rates of autism spectrum disorder among U.S. children remained stable from 2014 to 2016. That's a change from earlier studies, which suggested that autism rates rose steadily over the past 20 years. The authors of the recent study pointed to changes in diagnostic criteria, more public awareness, and more children being referred to doctors as among the principle reasons for the earlier increases.

Yet, as physicians, advocates, and parents are quick to point out, the stabilization shouldn't detract for exploring new treatments and adaptive experiences for children and adults with autism spectrum disorder. This hour, we discuss a range of issues related to autism, and explore options for care in our community. Our guests:

  • Dr. Susan Hyman, M.D., chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at UR Medicine's Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong
  • Mary Walsh Boatfield, CEO of CP Rochester, Happiness House, and Rochester Rehabilitation, and co-founder of the Golisano Autism Center
  • Michelle Maney, parent of a teenager who is on the autism spectrum
  • Sandra Erb-Petruccione, parent of an adult who is on the autism spectrum

There's a lot going on in the local autism community: The U of R has the brand-new Levine Autism Clinic. On South Avenue, there are plans for the new Golisano Autism Center. And this weekend, national experts will be in town to give talks, run workshops, and help lead a conference on autism. So what does the latest research tell us? Our guests:

  • Suzannah Iadarola, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital
  • Chris Hilton, mother, and finance and operations director for AutismUp
  • Terrie Meyn, COO of CP Rochester

This conversation is part of WXXI’s Inclusion Desk, spotlighting issues related to disabilities. The WXXI Inclusion Desk is part of Move to Include — a partnership to encourage thoughtful discussion about issues of inclusion and the differently-abled.

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