STAATSBURG, N.Y. — Courtney Irwin is a student at the Anderson Center for Autism, and on Saturday she performed her first solo at the centers annual Autism Tomorrow Conference.
“I’m so proud of her for being able to sing a solo. I think she’s come a long way. She’s been here about eight months and I’ve seen remarkable improvement in her behavior and her abilities and her abilities to function,” said Anderson Center parent, Michelle Irwin.
“People with disabilities, especially autism have plenty to offer,” said autism activist, Jesse Saperstein. “The people who are being served by the Anderson Center for Autism have a lot of strengths and society fails them by trying to put them in a box or make them grind themselves into a round hole if they’re a square peg.”
Families and former students of the center attended the conference and came to hear about new programs, technology and initiatives for people living with the disorder.
“One out of 68 children right now in this country are diagnosed on the autism spectrum,” said Anderson Center for Autism director, Eliza Bozenski. “It gives us an opportunity to have Anderson be a platform for other experts to come in and share with our families and with our staff and of course the community.”
Bozenski said the conference allows families and other members of the community hear about what other organizations are doing to manage autism.
“You don’t grow out of autism. So it’s one of those things where we try to keep it relevant for everybody and we challenge ourselves to bring in people who are going to tell the full story,” Bozenski said.
“Can you imagine if you have a child with disabilities, it’s scary and it’s nice to know that we have places like the Anderson Center that you can bring your children get the help you need or have your children stay here and that they truly care,” said Hyde Park Senator Sue Serino.
The Anderson Center plans on hosting additional conferences to shed light on innovative autism programs, with the hope of spreading its work beyond the Hudson Valley.