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L i f e L on g L e a r n e r




Fall 2009

ACA’s Gal a m akes a fash ion state m en t The Grandview was the place to be on Saturday, October 3rd as Anderson Center for Autism (ACA) celebrated our 8th Annual Gala entitled Compassion is Always in Fashion – Celebrating LifeLong LearningSM. Festively-attired family members, members of our boards of trustees, community representatives and officials, friends and staff were all among the more than 250 who excitedly filled the Grand Ballroom. With special thanks to this year’s Gold Sponsor, Kirchhoff-Consigli Construction Management, LLP, ACA’s signature fundraising Gala included a social cocktail hour, silent and live auctions, a delectable dinner, dancing to the music of the Michael Dell Orchestra and much more. Also included in the evening’s program was a special presentation to this year’s honoree, M&T Bank, for their continued support of ACA and the community. What has through the years become known as the evening’s highlight - the performance - was nothing less than spectacular this year. Our Adult Services Program fully embraced the Compassion is Always in Fashion theme and beautifully delivered ACA’s very first Gala fashion show. The red carpet rolled out and more than 20 chic models Simone M accompanied by her mother and brother shows off one of the evening’s red carpet fashions.

strutted their stuff down an elevated runway.

Showcasing a variety of designs from chartreuse elegance to the latest trends in tuxedos, this impressive group of individuals was simply unbelievable -- diverse, beautiful, and passionate as the crowd cheered them on. The models representative of the adults in our program were each accompanied by their mother, father, brother, sister or a member of their staff wearing fashions generously donated for the evening by Mary H. Abdoo and You Designs. The guests were wowed by the allure and luster these models presented to all those fortunate enough to be there and celebrate together. Fashion, by definition, changes constantly. Here at ACA change is vital to the success of our programs. Cutting edge developments allow us to provide

W h AT ’ S I N S I DE

the most effective services to the individuals in our care. Our families too

· Executive Director’s Message


are vital to our programs’ success and we wish to thank all of you who

· Fundraising Highlights


· Family Corner


participated in this year’s event. Our gratitude goes to everyone who worked tirelessly to make the 2009 Gala such a memorable one - especially our models! Great job everyone.

· Notes and Notables


autism today

The feeling in the room was beautifully summed up in an email from a proud parent: “I just wanted to let you know what a

Thoughts from the

wonderful time I had at the Gala. When I saw my son in his tux, I

desk of Neil J. Pollack,

had an unexpected reaction--I had a lump in my throat, and tears

Executive Director/C.E.O.

welled up in my eyes, something that hasn’t happened in a long

Sh owc asi n g ou r Accom p lish m ents

time. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see him and walk down the “runway” with him. Thanks again for your backing and loyalty to families.”

Two spectacular events marked a beautiful fall season for ACA.

Second, I was honored to represent ACA in receiving the 2009

First, our 8th annual Gala, was a huge success. Each year, the

Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal during a splendid ceremony in

Gala marks one of the most extraordinary events on ACA’s

October at ERVK in Hyde Park (see related article on page 4). It is

calendar. Looking around the ballroom I saw so many families

a tremendous compliment to our organization that with this award,

and was struck by the appropriateness of this year’s theme -

ACA is recognized as representing the singular humanitarian spirit

Compassion is Always in Fashion - it was especially fitting.

of the unmatched Mrs. Roosevelt.

Without the generous support and compassion of our sponsors, many of these families would not have been able to share in

Through my acceptance speech I was able to further spread the

such a special evening.

important message of overall autism awareness and ACA’s dedicated

An Adult Services fashion show highlighted the night. Family

services, most of whom present unique challenges. Events such as

and staff proudly accompanied our models as they walked the

these brilliantly showcase the hard work, dedication and

runway and, without exception, rose to the occasion. For all, it

achievements that our organization experiences every day. As

was an emotional moment and one that parents, in particular,will

always, I send my deep thanks to our sponsors, families, staff and

treasure as they were able to see their children in a uniquely

all who go the extra mile in making them such a success.

mission to improve the lives of the individuals with autism spectrum

adult way.

boards of trustees Anderson Center for Autism operates under the guidance of our exceptional Boards of Trustees. We appreciate the contributions that each of these talented and generous individuals makes towards the achievement of our goals.

A n d er so n C e n t e r f o r A u t i s m * David W. Melby, Chair

Elinor B. E. Arnold, Trustee

Eric Gorman, Trustee

Francis M. Synan 1st Vice Chair

Justin L. Cole, Trustee

Joe Lepore, Trustee

Sarah E. Sholes, 2nd Vice Chair

Elizabeth Corcoran, Trustee

Richard Lewis, Trustee

Peter M. Olympia, Jr., Treasurer

John S. DeJoy, Trustee

Lynne M. Liptay, MD, Trustee

Neeraj Alimchandani, Secretary

Pompey H. Delafield, Trustee

Jeanne R. Raichle, Trustee

John A. Scileppi, Trustee *Trustees for Anderson Center for Autism are also trustees for Anderson Center Services, Inc.

A n d er so n F o u n dat i o n f o r a u t i s m , i n c . Margaret Cusumano, Chair

Ellen L. Baker, Trustee

Tondra Lynford, Trustee

Marisa Perez-Rogers, Trustee

John Maserjian, Vice Chair

Louis Fratto, Jr., Trustee

Harold Mangold, Trustee

Paul Porco, Trustee

Robert Shoemaker, Treasurer

Vance A. Gage, Trustee

William F. Melcher, Trustee

William R. Salmeri, Trustee

Rebecca A. Valk, Secretary

Allen Gerber, M.D., Trustee

Deborah O’Keeffe, Trustee

Fritz Sonnenschmidt, Trustee

Joseph F. Heavey, Trustee

Li f eti m e H o n o r a ry T r u st ees Ellen Baker 2

Michael McNaughton

Wilfred Rohde

Jaime Rodriguez-Tellez

FU n d r a i si ng h igh ligh ts Thanks to the

Our Annual Appeal will soon be in the mail. Please consider

generous support of all who participated, net proceeds

ACA in your annual giving plans. At this critical time of

exceeded $80,000. Our 2010 Gala is planned for October

year, we need help from all our friends to support the needs

2nd, so save the date and stay tuned for details.

of the children and adults we serve.

We continue to encourage Board members and families to

It’s the holiday season and we appreciate your support to

host introductory receptions as fund/friend-raisers. Our

help with gift purchases to make the season bright. Please

ability to share our message and cultivate new relationships

contact us if you are interested in supporting a holiday gift

depends on friends like you.


This year’s Gala was a great success.

For more information on all the ways you can help to support ACA, please contact Noel Crotone at (845) 889-9208 or Donations should be made payable to Anderson Foundation for Autism.


family corner

For Joan Blutreich, October 3rd 2009 was an evening she’ll never forget an evening more than 30 years in the making. So, as she stepped toward her son Michael to greet him after his walk down the runway at ACA’s Gala Fashion Show, she could hardly contain her emotion. “We hadn’t told Michael that I would be there because we wanted him to be able to concentrate on the job at hand,” Joan recounts. “After he hit the runway like a champ, he saw me and his face lit up and he cheerfully said ‘Mommy.’” Just over 30 years ago, Joan made the “hardest decision of her life” and moved her eight year old son with autism to what was then Anderson School. “I knew Michael could benefit greatly from immersion in a program devoted to his specific needs,” she says. “Of course, I’ve remained very active in my son’s life and am thrilled to report that his progression over the years at ACA has been amazing. The ACA staff is made up of such special people with a unique sense of dedication to the individuals they serve. And, their expertise, dedication and hard work is rewarded every day in the difference they make in the lives of ACA’s students and adults.” As an adult, Michael now lives in an ACA IRA. “Anderson Center is truly his home,” Joan notes. “He’s a creature of habit who enjoys putting things in order, loves Jeopardy, solving puzzles and going out for sweet treats with me whenever I go for a visit.” So, on the night of the Gala when Michael saw his mom, it was no surprise to Joan that he immediately wanted cake. “I told him that dessert was soon to come,” Joan smiles. “And after his stellar performance on the runway, it certainly was a well deserved treat!” “The Gala evening was absolutely wonderful for both Michael and me,” says Joan. “Many thanks go to all and especially to ACA’ s Director of Adult Services, Mary Doyle, for her tireless efforts.”


staff kudos

R eco g n i z i ng Staf f Ach i e ve m en ts Recently, ACA paid tribute its hard working staff with a Staff Recognition celebration that marked overall staff achievements and the standout efforts of certain individual members of the team. Meritorious Award recipients included Johnita Green (Adult Services), Karen Johnson (Children’s Services), Laverne Randolph (Ancillary Services), Susan Germann (Administrative and Support) and Tony Glenn (Executive Director Leadership Award).

Cong r atu l at i o ns to t h e fo llowi n g sta f f m e m b e r s w h o ar e celeb r at i ng m i l esto n e a n n i v e r sa r i es w i t h ACA t h i s y e ar 20 y ea rs

25 years

30 years

Dolores E. Tarantino

Carolyn E. Weber

Lorraine A. Hejnal

Olive Simms

Carol Schloemer

William J. Wilson

Winsome Grant

Caroline M. Davison

Karl Frizzell Kenneth R. Saunders

ACA Acc epts Val-Ki ll M e dal In October, Executive Director, Neil Pollack, was presented with the 2009 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal at a ceremony held at the Eleanor Roosevelt Historical Site in Hyde Park. The prestigious award recognizes organizations that embody the humanitarian spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt herself. In his acceptance speech, Pollack outlined the critical issues related to autism in today’s society and stressed ACA’s commitment to the programs that will live up to the honor that has been bestowed on the organization with this award. Special thanks go to ACA Board member Tondra Lynford for her very kind words in her introduction of ACA at the event and to ERVK’s Executive Director, Kathleen Durham, who also joined us for our annual Gala in October, for her continued support of our organization.


A n e w a p p roach to P rogr am I n itiatives N e e d i n g F u n di ng This year, initiatives directly relating to programs that are currently unfunded from grants or private and public support are being presented at special events such as our recent Gala. We have introduced a new “fund an item� concept for supporters to make contributions that directly benefit initiatives such as the following: Art Program - Providing opportunities for our adults to express themselves through art. Participants would be exposed to several mediums through individual art pieces as well as collaborative pieces. The program offers opportunities to develop social and leisure skills while improving self esteem. Artwork will be displayed at a community exhibit as well as other exhibits. Estimated cost: $3,000/2 yr program The long range goal is to secure a community site to be used as an art studio. Necessary equipment would be two pottery wheels, clay tools, clay, drying racks and kiln for firing ceramic pieces. Other equipment sought would be easels, canvases, paint supplies. Estimated cost: $12,000/annually Rock With Me - The great majority of the students we serve exhibit difficulties in balancing and organizing sensory input. Some students may react significantly to sounds, sights or smells in their environment. Others may seek out sensory input, instinctively recognizing their own need for sensory stimulation in an effort to calm and refocus. It is our experience that many children with autism benefit from vestibular regulation (the balance created in the body by the relationship between the brain, eyes and inner ear). Vestibular input can be obtained by swinging in a hammock or swing, or rocking in a rocking chair. This can become an effective self regulation strategy that can benefit them for their lifetime. This is an easy, inexpensive way to ensure students have immediate access to this important, vestibular input. Estimated cost $3,000 Winter Wellness - Opportunities for organized winter exercise/recreation are limited. This program will provide our students with snowshoe equipment (and instruction for use) to increase outdoor activities, thereby supporting the program’s commitment to student health and wellness. Teaching students to participate with this equipment will assist in skill development, and confidence building as well as the obvious health/fitness benefits. Estimated cost $3,000 Equine Assisted Therapy - This therapy targets a variety of motor, motor-planning, problem solving, communication and social interaction skills. A 75 minute session includes both riding and non-riding activities. Students who have participated in past sessions have demonstrated an increase in communication and motor planning skills as well as measurable difference in improved posture, tone, balance and coordination. Eight sessions for 6-8 students. Estimated cost $9,600 Communication Enhancement Initiative - To enhance resources available for the Speech Department to better assess and deliver services to the students and adults with speech related issues, this initiative would provide specific augmentative communication devices and software that would promote independent, functional communication for many of our participants. Estimated cost $4,246 For more information on all the ways you can help to support ACA, please contact Noel Crotone at (845) 889-9208 or Donations should be made payable to Anderson Foundation for Autism.


ACA notes and notables

B OWLING LEagu e Di n n er In September,14 students took part in a dinner to celebrate the completion of the 2009 Taconic Friendship Bowling League. During the season, the students met up with other agencies every Sunday afternoon at Mid City Lanes in Kingston. At the dinner each student was presented with a trophy in recognition of their

ACA I n ter nsh i p Leads to Discover i n g “Tr u e Pass ion” For seven weeks this summer, Molly Remch, now a junior at the Spence School in Manhattan, participated in an internship with ACA’s Occupational Therapy Department, during which she lived at ACA and commuted home for the weekends.

participation. Congratulations to Isaac M, Kyle Z, Jeffery F, Kyle

Molly completed an orientation covering an overview of

G, Jarret R, Bill H, Leonard A, Imani B, Richard A, Brendan S,

developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorder in

Chris D, Bradley R, Daniel M, and William H for all their hard

addition to mandatory training to be CPR and First Aid

work. Special thanks also go to staff members Jarmar Richardson


for organizing the league for all to enjoy and Kwame Wiafeakenten,

assisted with ACA’s OTs during individual and group sessions

Jr. for organizing the dinner.

and helped plan the Wacky Water Olympics, an end-of-

Once trained and certified, she observed and

summer event run by the OT and PT Departments. “Working at ACA was the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had, reports Molly. “I really saw the difference I was able to make in the lives of the children and adults. I realized that if we could accomplish so much in just seven weeks, there is much more I could do by working with people who share the goal of helping individuals with autism to reach their potential.”

ACA N u r s e Tr avels as a D e l eg ate to Ch i na

Molly feels the experience has opened her up to an array of

ACA’s Heidi Schlipmann, RN, Nurse Supervisor, was recently

the relationship between her school and ACA by hosting a

chosen to travel to China as a delegate in a two week program,

lunch forum to inform Spence students about autism and the

designed in conjunction with The Nightingale Initiative for

work of ACA. Great work Molly!

future job possibilities. She now looks toward strengthening

Global Health, to carry out a mission to share collective nursing wisdom and values as health diplomats in creating a healthy world. The itinerary called for both cultural and professional days at a variety of locations throughout China, providing a number of opportunities to learn more about nursing and the

u Pco m i ng eve n t

healthcare system in China as a whole while also providing

Wedn esday, Decem b e r 9th

information on health care delivery and specialty nursing

Annual Holiday Open House

practices in the U.S. Heidi expressed that her personal goal was

forward to sharing all

ACA’s Annual Holiday Open House recognizes the diverse celebrations of the season. We invite staff, Board members, and ACA parents to join us during this festive time of year, for a wonderful opportunity to mingle with staff and

she’s learned with her

one another.

to return a better nurse and a more enlightened person.





co-workers and friends.” Great work Heidi!


12:00-4:30 pm Location: Mansewood (Administration Building)

CELE B RAT ING HARVEST FESTival In October, ACA held our annual Harvest Festival with an open house for families and activities celebrating the harvest season. During the event, a puppet show production, “Cinderella - The Musical,” was performed by members of the Anderson Theatrical Productions led by DeeDee Casapu. This was DeeDee’s last production as she is moving out of state to begin a new adventure.

SCENES FROM THE GALA In an evening filled with excitement and joy, we were able to capture many poignant moments and smiling faces. Here are a few to enjoy.


T h e s eason of gi vi n g is fast ap p roac h i ng Watch for our annual appeal to arrive in your mail soon. We ask you to consider how you might support ACA today and in the year ahead. Your contributions will assist us in providing the best educational, residential and recreational opportunities to the children and adults we serve, both on campus and in the community. Visit our website at to make your donation online or contact Noel Crotone, Fundraising and Special Events Manager at (845) 889-9208 for more information. Thank you.

4885 Route 9 路 P.O. Box 367 Staatsburg, NY 12580-0367 Ph: 845-889-4034


Fall 2009 Newsletter - Anderson Center for Autism  
Fall 2009 Newsletter - Anderson Center for Autism  

The Anderson School for Autism Fall 2009 Newsletter