City Hall Rally to Save Autism Initiative Funding 2011

Parents, youngsters, teachers, and Council members gathered today on the steps of City Hall seeking continued City Council funding for valuable autism services. More than 75 representatives from a variety of organizations attended, including Joshua Weinstein, Ph.D., M.B.A., President and Founder of Shema Kolainu-Hear our Voices (SKHOV), school and center for children for autism.

Dr. Joshua Weinstein, President & Founder of Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices addresses the crowd

While there is no cure for autism, quality services are necessary for maximizing positive outcomes,” said Council Member Mark S. Weprin. “Children with autism respond better and have a better quality of life when they have access to the services they need.”

“Autism now impacts one child in every one hundred and ten, and one in seventy -four boys. While there is not yet a cure, it has been proven that children with autism better respond and have a better quality of life when offered services and are in the company of other children to engage and participate in social skill development, and that parent awareness and training leads to early intervention, which is critical for children to receive services in proper educational settings and to achieve optimal outcomes for each child.

City Council “1 in 150” funding over the last year supported 12 training and 13 wraparound providers who collectively conducted 145 training workshops for parents and educators reaching over 2,500 parents, caregivers and professionals in all five boroughs. SKHOV is one of the recipients of this funding with which they provide parent training and autism workshops open to the public. There are 4 workshops per year with topics ranging from how to use technology with your child to speech therapy practices a parent can use at home to help their child with speech, to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) techniques families can learn to help their son, daughter, sibling etc.

Both City Council members David Greenfield and Brad Lander affirmed their commitment to fight for this essential funding, “Everyone in NYC has a family member or a friend touched by autism. I’ve had a chance to see the hard work of the City Council’s Autism Initiative up close, and to see what a difference it makes to have caring teachers and social workers working with autistic kids every day. The progress that families see as a result is truly extraordinary. I would like to commend Shema Kolainu, a wonderful school in my district for children with autism. They have been able to take Initiative dollars and translate that into care for children across the city. While these are challenging economic times, we cannot and must not abandon these children and their families asserted Councilman Lander. “The answer to our budget crisis is not to cut services to special needs children and families. We must find alternative streams of revenue to ensure that vital programs like the City Council Autism Initiative remain intact. It’s the least that we can do for families of these amazing children” proclaimed Councilman Greenfield.

“We urge the City Council to fund the Autism Initiative which helps families find resources and services to enhance the quality of life for their children on the autism spectrum. It’s sad that every year we must gather on the steps of City Hall and urge those in government for their support for programs serving children and youth who are diagnosed with autism. We know the official statics are 1 in 150 children but the more accurate numbers are closer to 1 in 100 children a true epidemic—therefore these services which the Autism Initiative funds will allow children on the autism spectrum to receive additional care along with respite for their families. I particularly thank Councilmember Mark Weprin along with Councilmembers David Greenfield and Brad Lander for their leadership on behalf of the Council’s autism initiative,” said Joshua Weinstein, Ph.D, M.B.A. founder and president of Shema Kolainu—Hear Our Voices