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




Summer 2008

Aut i s m S p eaks’ P r esi dent Roit h may r Vis its An de r so n Center for aut ism On April 11, 2008, Anderson Center for Autism (ACA), in partnership with the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted its Second Annual Public Policy Breakfast. Held at The Grand Hotel in Poughkeepsie, NY, the breakfast brought together over 150 invitees including community and business leaders, special needs professionals and families of those on the autism spectrum. The spirit of ACA was well represented from the start as ACA adults Ed H. and Dylan A. helped to open the program with a beautifully delivered Pledge of Allegiance. Attendees were also treated to a brilliant gallery of artwork from the ACA Adult Program displayed throughout the room. During the program, Neil Pollack, ACA’s Executive

Pictured at the Policy Breakfast, left to right: Charles S. North, Pres & CEO,

Director and CEO took the podium and showed a short

DCRCOC; Stephen E. Diamond, DCRCOC Board Chair, Gellert & Klein P.C.;

video about ACA before providing the introduction of Keynote Speaker Mark Roithmayr, President of Autism Speaks.

Dave Melby, Rose & Kiernan, sponsor (and Board Chair, ACA); Ellen Baker, McCabe & Mack, sponsor (and Board Chair, AFA); Mark Roithmayr, President of Autism Speaks; Neil J. Pollack, Executive Director / CEO ACA; Maureen Terwilliger, 101.5 WPDH; Scott Cruikshank, Kirchhoff Construction, sponsor; Joe Lepore, L.C.S. Facility Maintenance, sponsor (and ACA Board Member).

Founded in 2005, Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism, and to advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. As President since 2005, Mark Roithmayr has played a major role in making Autism Speaks the largest non-profit autism-related healthcare organization in the U.S. today. In his Keynote Address entitled “Autism Today” Roithmayr called out the alarming statistic that one in every 150 children is diagnosed on the autism spectrum and he stressed the extremely critical nature of early intervention. (Continued on page 3)

W h AT ’ S I N S I DE · Executive Director’s Message · Master Site Plan Updates


· Fundraising Highlights


· Family Corner




autism today

Thoughts from the desk of Neil J. Pollack, Executive Director/C.E.O.

technology corner

A r e volutionary data stor age solu t i o n f or An de rson Cent e r For autis m Last year, Anderson Center for Autism (ACA) was approached by NEC Corporation of America, a Fortune 500 company, to be the first company to participate in a

Backed with sobering statistics, we can now adamantly say that autism is indeed an epidemic. But unlike most epidemics where symptoms, affects and even treatment approaches are basically the same from case to case, autism is very different. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, the range of ways that it affects individuals is as varied as the individuals themselves. When most people hear of autism, they think of someone they may know or stories they’ve heard through the media. In this way, autism as a whole is poorly understood. People don’t think of the masses affected by this epidemic – or the fact that each person with autism has different challenges and therefore, very different needs. Some individuals with autism are gifted thinkers who, with the right guidance, do quite well in the public schools. At the middle range, individuals

beta test of their new cutting edge data storage technology – HYDRAstor™ HS8. The revolutionary grid storage platform addresses today’s storage challenges, greatly enhances the flexibility of the storage environment and is more reliable and cost-effective. For ACA to meet compliance requirements, sensitive records and information on our students and adults must be backed up, easily accessible and retained for decades. Our archives have thus grown tremendously over the years – to the point where nearly a million paper documents have been stored in boxes. Meeting compliance often meant that staff had to dig through boxes to retrieve documents. To remedy this, some record digitization had begun, however, the tape-based backup solution the organization was using was timeconsuming and unreliable.

possess some levels of communication but perhaps not

After the rigorous HYDRAstor beta test was completed

enough to thrive without proper intervention.

in October 2007, ACA decided to deploy the platform to replace our backup system and create a new digital


Here at Anderson Center for Autism (ACA) we provide

archive system. “We needed to efficiently manage our

placement for the most challenging range of cases based

information growth and improve data protection and

on closely matched referrals within New York State.

HYDRAstor was a perfect fit,” says Gregg Paulk, ACA’s

But in the face of this epidemic, there is an urgent need

Director of Information Technologies. The product not

for placement and teaching assistance in record numbers

only offers a great deduplication ratio, but also provides

– from in state, out of state and across the world, at all

a strategic grid platform that can seamlessly grow with

ranges of the spectrum. At ACA we can not meet the

our needs and uniquely provide better protection, scope

overwhelming number of referrals but we can not turn

and performance. ACA is now better able to manage

our backs to the need. Our question then is what do we

information growth and to meet compliance regulations

do to help those who can’t come to ACA?

regarding data storage, retrieval and protection.

(Continued on page 3)

(Continued on page 11)

Neil Pollack, continued from page 2 Our response, in part, is to bring a part of us to them through a comprehensive consulting practice. Through the practice, we are able to reach out and share what we’ve learned with school districts, state agencies and families across the country. What started over two years ago with our teachers and staff reaching out to the community and families by answering telephone calls has now morphed into a formal program delivering evidence-based educational and support services including:


Individual specific consultation - in the home or school setting


Program Development - assisting school districts or agencies in developing programs to

support individuals on the autism spectrum

Training and Professional Development - provided to school districts, agency providers,


community groups, families

When dealing with an epidemic, it is necessary to think outside the box and find innovative ways to respond. Our goal through the consultation practice is to empower others with the knowledge we have gained through experience. By helping individuals with autism thrive in their current settings we can alleviate the urgency for placements while providing what they need to grow. To learn more about our consultation program please call Nancy J. Osborn, Director of Consultations at 845.889.9535 or

Roithmayr visits aca, continued from cover Following the breakfast, Roithmayr accompanied Neil Pollack and members of the staff on a comprehensive tour of ACA including school buildings, residences, administrative offices, Enderkill IRA and more. He was also shown the master site plan to underscore ACA’s commitment to progress. Next, Roithmayr joined the executive team over lunch to discuss best practices, share knowledge and start a dialogue on how the two organizations could pursue future partnerships. “We were honored to have Mark tour our campus and to have the opportunity to collaborate with him on ideas and the issues of autism today,” said Neil Pollack. “Fabulous is one word that sums up my experience at Anderson Center for Autism, recalls Roithmayr. “I travel to two to three cities per week so I have a good sense of autism services and I’d be hard pressed to think of a center that is more comprehensive or dedicated. I am very impressed by the passion shared by Neil and the Executive Team - and the faculty

Individuals and staff represented two of our community residences at the Policy Breakfast. Ed H. and Dylan A. opened the program with the Pledge of Allegiance. Pictured, left to right: Geneva R, Dylan A, Ed H, Tyche H

is tremendous. Their creativity and vision is so evident and it manifests itself in the Center delivering what’s best for all involved. From children to adults there’s a place for everyone at ACA.” Special thanks go to the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce and its President and CEO Charles S. North; and the event’s sponsors – Kirchhoff Construction Management, LCS Facility Maintenance, McCabe & Mack and Rose and Kiernan. For more information on Autism Speaks you can visit their website at


Exc i t e m e n t is b u i ldi ng over An der so n Center for autis m’s Master Site P l an Take one look around Anderson Center for Autism’s (ACA) campus and you’ll clearly see that exciting changes are happening everywhere. But, what you might not know is that all of these changes and renovations are part of a complex multi-phase Master Site Plan. Formulated in 2003 by a comprehensive group of dedicated individuals including members from the ACA community, architects, engineers and more, the Master Site Plan was devised as a blueprint for progress and revitalization of a picturesque 150 acre campus that dates back to 1924. With ACA’s original mission and focus having evolved throughout the years, all school buildings and residences were designed with a different student population in mind. This, in addition to many of the buildings being over 70 years old, meant they didn’t support the environmental needs of individuals with autism. In order for ACA to provide the best in educational and residential facilities, they needed to be replaced or completely rehabilitated. And so, with the birth of the Master Site Plan, ACA moved directly into transformation mode. Today’s Master Site Plan includes many useful and innovative elements: · A Village Center that will house an educational area, Head to Toe, providing a storefront environment where students learn to shop and work as they would in the community. In addition, two family centers designed in distinctly home-like settings will offer a place where families can meet to play, relax and celebrate with their children while on campus. The Center will also serve as headquarters for all facility and security operations. · 12 new residences · A recreation center · The renovation of the existing Davis Hall residence to give it a complete face lift · The preservation of Malcolm Hall as administrative offices The Master Site Plan is a five to seven year program divided in into three phases: Phase One – Completed in 2006, Phase One met the campus’ immediate residential needs with the construction of four state-ofthe-art homes designed specifically for the needs of individuals with autism. Phase Two – Currently underway, Phase Two includes the construction of six new residences set to be completed in late Fall this year. Also included are the construction of the Village Center, the renovation of Davis Hall and the relocation of the campus sewage treatment facility. Phase Three – Scheduled to commence at the completion of Phase Two, Phase Three encompasses the construction of two additional residences, the campus recreation center and the preservation of Malcolm Hall. “The dedication that ACA and its staff have shown to this revitalization project clearly underscores the Center’s mission,” notes Maria Espie, Director of Business Affairs. “Parents and others visiting ACA for the first time as well as those who are already familiar with the campus are now seeing state-of-the-art facilities complementing a dynamic organization that promotes the best opportunities for children to learn and thrive.” For updates on the progress of our Master Site Plan, please check our website at 4

Wa l k i n g th e walk April is Autism Awareness month and to commemorate the occasion, ACA residents and staff participated in the Autism Walk at the Rhinebeck Fairgrounds. Our cheerleaders were featured and provided encouragement to the walkers as they began to make their way around the track. In addition, ACA had a booth to provide attendees with the myriad of services we are providing to both those in our program and other in other communities.

Want to learn more about ACA? Come to a monthly tour. Take advantage of the educational workshops we offer and connect with other families. And visit our website at


Veu x t u pa r ler en f r an cais ? Would you like to speak French? That’s exactly the question that Teacher’s Assistant Radita Casapu (Dee Dee) wanted to ask the students of Anderson Center for Autism (ACA) when she proposed an innovative idea to the administration. Dee Dee had a plan to start a French club as an after school program. But, in a setting where many students are non-verbal, understandably the plan was met with some hesitation. It wasn’t long though before the hesitation was replaced with interest and excitement. Dee Dee’s French Club members were speaking and singing in French! “I taught them the sounds through words and songs and asked them to repeat and translate whole sentences,” says Dee Dee proudly. At first I didn’t know if it was just that they thought the sounds themselves were funny or if they were amused by the way I moved my face when I spoke, but the kids were responding.” Then one day, a child who had previously not verbally participated,

Club members practice for the big performance

got in front of the group and sang an entire song in French. “It was a very emotional moment,” Dee Dee recalls, “I knew then that the program was working.” Dee Dee had a multi-level goal for the program: first, to enhance overall speech capability; second, to work as a memorization exercise – plus have the kids think a little in another language; third, to teach about the cultures of other countries; and also, to reinforce the kids’ interest in getting involved and committed to something. To achieve these goals, Dee Dee put together a well rounded program that included repetition exercises, music and songs, maps and cultural elements of countries where French is spoken and more. And to teach determination, hard work and discipline, they would work toward a show at the end of the year. Encouraged by the successes of the French Club, Dee Dee also formed the Rock and Roll/Dance Club. With many of the same goals, plus encouraging physical exercise, sharing and following direction, the Rock and Roll Club’s main goal is to have fun. “The kids are overwhelmingly good listeners,” compliments Dee Dee. “They so look forward to the year-end show. After the show, the first thing they all want to know is when we can do it again. I truly believe that the feelings of enjoyment and discipline they build up can be applied to all subjects.” “Through both clubs, the kids have been given the opportunity to build self esteem and coping skills,” says Kathleen Marshall, Director of Children’s Services. “It’s amazing to see them on stage with all the other kids dealing with loud music, sharing, and working together. By being put in this situation, they have had to overcome things. Because they are participating, sharing and knowing they have a job to do, they do not retreat into themselves. They have blossomed. And the results have had a tremendous impact on the entire staff.” “I’m so honored to have this opportunity,” says Dee Dee. “I had been looking for my calling for quite a while and I have definitely found it here at ACA . I share a strong sense of trust with the students and have found a creative way to help them feel good about themselves.” “Dee Dee is a true educator, adds Kathleen Marshall. “She has reminded everyone that you can achieve amazing things when you work hard and believe.” And to that we say bon travail Dee Dee and club members - and rock on! You can see the French and the Rock and Roll Dance Clubs perform at this year’s Gala in October. For more information, please see the announcement in this issue or visit our website at


C a p i ta l an d E n d ow m e nt C a m pa i g n r e ach es f o r n e w h eights

fundraising highlights

Last October, at Anderson Center’s Annual Gala the organization





fundraising initiative – our Capital and Endowment Campaign. With a substantial 2.5 million dollar goal in mind, the staff, Boards and supporters set out to make the campaign a great success. And to date, we’re proud to report that we’ve raised more than $750,000. Through the generous donations of members of our Boards, families, staff, close friends of ACA and more, in addition to the funds raised from events such as our annual golf tournament and Gala, we have made great strides toward reaching our goal. “This is such an exciting time for ACA.

Support from successful events such as our annual Gala has helped

The support we are receiving in this initial phase from those

ACA inch ever closer to meeting our fundraising goals. Pictured at

closest to us including staff, families, both boards of trustees

last year’s gala, left to right: David Melby, ACA Board Chair; Mrs.

and the local community is overwhelming,” lauds Rosemary

Elizabeth Coppola; Mr. Antonio Coppola, honoree; Mrs. Ellen Baker,

Hoffmann, Vice President of Development.

But we still

AFA Board Chair; Neil J. Pollack, ACA Executive Director / CEO

have far to go! Continued support will allow ACA to remain

Please see our Save the Date announcement for this year’s Gala on

in the forefront of specialized care while exceptionally

the back cover of this issue of LifeLong Learner.

serving the needs of those who need us most. The Campaign is focused on critical needs that affect ACA’s children and adults, our programs, and our long-term financial security. These initiatives are not funded through our state agency support but are essential to having ACA remain on the cutting edge of practices and principles. Examples of such initiatives are:

· A Community Support Network – A resource center supporting the autism spectrum for families, schools and the community at large

· A Regional Education Center – A collection of facilities that support the center with training and conference space and housing

· Specialized training in autism spectrum services – Anderson will provide a curriculum that will be instrumental in training future professionals in the field of special education A resounding thank you goes out to all who have already contributed! Today, our efforts to promote campaign awareness continue through mailings, radio announcements, local community events, direct contact and more. Parents and staff have also held fundraising house parties as entertaining ways to spread the word and raise needed funds. We’re determined to make a difference in the lives of children and adults with autism and through the commitment and care of so many dedicated individuals, we’re sure to meet our goal. If you would like to find out more about hosting a house fundraising party or want more information on the many ways you can help, please contact Rosemary Hoffmann at 845.889.9201 or


Eas i n g t r ansition towar d i n dep en den t l ivi n g In 2007, Anderson Center for Autism (ACA) was approached by a New York family seeking residential placement for their adult daughter who was currently in an out of state program. In response to the request, ACA submitted a proposal to Options for People Through Services (OPTS), an existing OMRDD program that maximizes opportunities for individual choice through




independence and assures that providers promote the health, safety and protection of individuals through compliance with the highest standards. In November 2007, the proposal to create a residential opportunity for five women was approved and the planning and preparation for this special Individual

The Old Mill Road IRA’s five residents enjoy a moment together

Residential Alternative, or IRA, was underway. The first step was to systematically search for a group that would be successful in this opportunity. ACA staff looked for women whose parents, guardians or the individuals themselves thought they would be a good match. Then, the interested parties were interviewed and in addition to the original candidate, four were chosen from a variety of current living situations – some living with their parents or family members, one from out of state, some familiar with ACA, some not. The ACA team was well aware that the transition process was critical and could be difficult. These women would be experiencing a major environment change and for the first time, they would be living with someone new. So the team devised a multifaceted plan to ease the transition. It included a series of four “meet and greets” held at the new residence once a month from October through January. Parents and the ladies were invited to get together and become more familiar with the surroundings and each other. Planned activities including art projects and taking photos of the group for the ladies to bring home were aimed at helping to remind them of their new home and housemates. In addition, the staff conducted preference assessments with the ladies and their parents where they discussed what they liked and disliked. From this they determined the color of their bedrooms, decorations, favorite activities and more. All these efforts contributed greatly in formulating a program that closely fit their needs and played a major role in helping the women feel like they had a part in making the house truly their home. This March, the home opened on Old Mill Rd in New Paltz, approximately one half hour from ACA’s main campus. “The community of New Paltz has been extremely welcoming and its eclectic nature made it an ideal match,” adds ACA’s Director of Adult Services, Mary Doyle. “I’m happy to say that the ladies quickly became integrated into the community. With the home within walking distance of the village, they have already found their favorite spots for coffee, shopping and even a place to get their nails done.” So far it’s been a tremendous work in progress with the women learning by experience how to live together and finding common ground on things like food preferences and what they like to watch on TV. Today, ACA continues its outstanding transition support by running weekly meetings to discuss issues to work through while learning more about these newly independent women as they adjust to life in their new home.


A “ S eco n d Hom e” f or Kar l

family corner

In 2004, when Karl Kirschner’s parents took a long hard look at Karl’s school situation, they had to agree that their community’s public school just wasn’t meeting the specific needs of their child with autism. The Kirschners, who were “very aware of Anderson Center for Autism’s (ACA) reputation in the community as well as their record of excellence in education and care,” approached their school system to see if a placement at ACA could be arranged for Karl. In October of 2004, Karl joined the student body of ACA as a day student. “We saw changes in him almost immediately,” notes his mom, Christina. “At his previous school, Karl was showing behavioral issues – manipulating the staff and acting up – to the point where he was missing school far too much. But even in his first few months at ACA, Karl’s dramatic progress was evident and the staff urged the Kirschners to consider a residential placement for Karl.

Karl demonstrates his ability to juggle at the 2007 ACA Harvest Festival

“Making the decision to let our 10 year old live away from home was extremely hard, but we knew it was the best thing we could do for Karl. We saw the very positive changes in him over the previous few months and we truly understood that ACA could provide the level of structure and continuity that is so crucial for children with autism – something that we could not achieve at home,” Christina recalls. In May 2005, Karl moved into ACA’s residential program. “We knew that Karl was an incredibly adaptable, very bright boy, but even we couldn’t have predicted the amazing transformation he would undergo at ACA. The aggressive behaviors that he once exhibited, common to many children with autism, just aren’t there now. He has learned how to calm himself down and as of three months ago, he no longer needs previously prescribed medications. And, most importantly, Karl is happy and content.” “Karl is a gentle soul and has many friends at ACA. He loves the outdoors and enjoys the benefits of the beautiful campus and so much more. I very much appreciate the fact that we have Anderson Center as a tremendous asset in our community,” Christina says. “And because we live so close, we can visit Karl often. As a matter of fact, the first time we dropped Karl off at ACA after a stay away at home, saying goodbye was much harder on me. Karl happily smiled a big smile and waved goodbye. It was then that I knew that we had made the right decision. Karl had found his second home.”


ACA notes and notables

A ti m e -h on or ed tr ad it io n In April, ACA hosted the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce for a centennial time capsule burial on the ACA campus. The event marked the end of the Chamber’s centennial celebration and the commencement of the next one hundred years of activity. Congrats to the Chamber on 100 great years! The capsule






organizations and individuals, and current information on the community and chamber. Items ran the gamut from brochures to Twinkies. Ready to Dig...Pictured left to right: Stephen E. Diamond, DCRCOC Board Chair, Gellert & Klein P.C.; Charles S. North, Pres & CEO, DCRCOC; Stacey Langenthal, DCRCOC Past Chair, Rhinebeck Savings Bank; Ellen Baker, McCabe & Mack, and AFA Board Chair; Neil J. Pollack, ACA Executive Director / CEO

Ba r n es & Nob le F u n dr ais e r The Poughkeepsie Barnes & Noble recently organized a fundraiser for ACA. During one week in April, if ACA was mentioned or a special coupon was presented by a person making a purchase at the store, a percentage of the purchase was set aside as a donation to ACA. In addition, a group of ACA students were treated to a behind the scenes tour of the store and the works of artists in our Adult Services program were on display. Many thanks to Barnes & Noble!


Pat r o n s e at well an d su p p ort AC A John Coppola, local businessman and strong supporter of ACA, recently hosted a fundraiser at Coppola’s Italian and American Bistro, located in Hyde Park. On one evening during Autism Awareness Month, when patrons identified that they were there in support of ACA a portion of the proceeds were set aside as a donation to ACA. Thanks John!

H y d e Pa r k Ch am b er of Co m m e r c e visits ACA In April, The Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce held their monthly breakfast meeting at ACA. The topic was Employing Individuals with Developmental Disabilities. Delivered in a panel format by representatives of The Culinary Institute of America, ACA and Saint Francis Hospital, attendees were provided with information on how individuals with disabilities are productive members of their workforce and how businesses can benefit from their services.

ACA o n T V The National Medical Report has recognized Anderson Center for Autism as one of our nation’s important and progressive agencies educating and caring for children and adults on the autism spectrum. In case you missed the broadcast on CNBC in April, you can view it on our website at

ACA G r a d uate honor ed 2008 ACA graduate David B-G recently received a standing ovation at the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year dinner. David gave a wonderful speech after receiving the Chamber’s “Good Neighbor” Award. He was by far the hit of the evening and his words touched all who were in attendance. Well done David!

Tecnology corner, continued from page 2 According to Paulk, “It was critical that we find a backup and archive storage solution that not only addressed today’s problems, but would be able to address the needs of our rapidly growing organization as well. We wanted a solution that was cost-effective, highly reliable, fast and efficient. HYDRAstor met all of these needs and has enabled us to become a more efficient organization that can better serve the needs of children and adults with autism.” Through the program, ACA is being recognized as an innovative leader in technology to the benefit of students, staff and the entire organization. Anderson Center would like to thank NEC Corporation of America for their tremendous efforts and we look forward to a continued partnership with this progressive technology leader.


4885 Route 9 路 P.O. Box 367 Staatsburg, NY 12580-0367


Anderson Center for Autism Summer 2008 Newsletter  

Anderson School for Autism Summer 2008 Newsletter Anderson Center for Autism has built a strong foundation of knowledge, experience, expert...

Anderson Center for Autism Summer 2008 Newsletter  

Anderson School for Autism Summer 2008 Newsletter Anderson Center for Autism has built a strong foundation of knowledge, experience, expert...