Help for Adult Developmentally Disabled (Aired on November 4 and 5, 2016)
RadioRotary interviews Holly Gaiman, Development Coordinator at InFlight, Inc., which supplies residential facilities, including group homes and apartments, for people with developmental disabilities. Its mission is to ensure the people it supports reach their highest level of independence and inclusion into the community while living in a home setting. InFlight operates throughout much of the mid-Hudson region, providing not only a home but also vocational services, art and music programs, activities of many kinds, and even the Can Do Café in Catskill, where residents meet to prepare the food. The residents served must be 22 years old or older and may be on the autism spectrum, have been born intellectually disabled, or suffer from brain damage. InFlight is supported by New York State’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).
Eliza Bozenski is the development director for the Anderson Center for Autism, a nonprofit educational and therapeutic organization that includes day and residential programs for children and adults as well as diagnostics, training, and consultation for families or schools. Its hundred-acre walkable campus on the Hudson, where autistic students learn in classes with 6 or fewer other students, is just the most obvious part of the organization. It also encompasses 21 group homes, three life-learning centers, a clinic, and consulting arrangements with local schools. This compelling RadioRotary interview tells the listener much about autism and the important place of the Anderson Center in its management.
Melissa McCoy, Chief Advancement Officer for Abilities First describes this seven-county program that serves developmentally disabled children and adults in the Hudson Valley. Staring with pre-school, Abilities First supplies educational programs that replace the regular special-education classes in twenty different facilities (one facility, in Red Hook, is in the same building as the regular school). When children reach age 21, they are transferred from the educational system to the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. From that point, Abilities First provides a sheltered workshop, job shadowing programs, and supportive or supervised housing. The focus is on helping individuals do as much for themselves as possible.
Jeffery Fox, executive director of Abilities First, and Serene Morrero, director of development, describe this Dutchess-County-based program that serves all developmentally disabled children and adults. The organization has thirty different facilities in Dutchess County, which began with its original “Little Red Schoolhouse” in Poughkeepsie, and now goes from preschool to adult services. Since then, the emphasis in helping the developmentally disabled–who may be on the autism spectrum, have down syndrome , or suffer other forms of intellectual disability–has often been on “mainstreaming” students into regular classrooms, but Abilities First helps handle students not able to be integrated into ordinary schoolrooms. At the adult level, Abilities First provides help with ways to use community resources and currently aids sixty who have regular employment as well as those who are not able to work.