Making Global Connections at Shema Kolainu

Dilara Mitu discussing how to help poverty stricken children with disabilities in Bangladesh with Dr. Joshua Weinstein, CEO & Founder of Shema Kolainu & ICare4Autism

Today Dilara Mitu, Managing Trustee and Director of the SEID Trust took the time to visit Shema Kolainu in the hopes of starting a collaborative relationship and learn some best practices used at the center. The SEID Trust is an … Continue reading

The Autism Difference

Shannon Rosa with son Leo (Source: Huffington Post)

May is Mental Health Month and Shannon Rosa shares her experience of being a parent with a 13-year-old autistic son with some very important points on gaining perspective from an autistic child’s point of view. Unlike many people Shannon found the updated statistic from the CDC, which states that 1 in 68 children are autistic, to be a comforting number. For her, it just serves as a confirmation that her son is neither “damaged or broken – he’s an example of human variation, like any kid.” And as CDC’s Dr. Colleen Boyle states, “It may be that we’re getting better at identifying autism,” which simply confirms research that the autism community has been gathering for years.

Shannon admits that her son’s differences used to upset her and it was a part of him that she found hard to accept. However, with more information and support she has come to understand her son’s differences as something to be accepted and getting him the best resources to accommodate his needs was an important part of this. Getting others to understand autistic children is an ongoing effort. For example, Shannon explains that many parents should not just give up hope after their child hits puberty since many autistic people develop skills throughout adolescence and adulthood. We should also be more aware of sensory overload and how they can lead to their child having a meltdown and so on. She leaves us with these points on how to view/interact with her son Leo and children like him on the spectrum, especially if you are not a parent of an autistic child or unfamiliar with autism:

  • Leo isn’t waiting around for other kids to be friends with him. If he is spoken to with respect, then he may or may not interact with you.
  • Just because he cannot communicate as well as you doesn’t mean he is less intelligent. If you talk about him as though he isn’t there he will remember and be unlikely to trust you.
  • Getting both Leo’s attention and eye contact can be overwhelming for him. He makes eye contact on his own terms, but please don’t demand it.
  • Sometimes it takes Leo a minute to process what you’ve said to him, so just give him a moment instead of trying to simplify your language or shout in his ear.
  • Leo finds it calming to have sensory input such as sifting through pebbles, bouncing on a trampoline, or having a heavy blanket on his lap.
  • If Leo is fidgeting, tapping or exhibiting any other repetitive behavior, if it is not an inconvenience for you then just let him be as it serves as a soothing activity for him.
  • Leo is happy. Although autistic children experience frustration sometimes with communication or sensory overload they can be just as happy and joyous as any other child, something we tend to forget when messages about autism center around pity and prevention.

To read the original article, click here

For more resources on how to understand and care for autistic children, check out our International Autism Conference featuring:

Dr. Pamela Wolfberg, who will be presenting on Integrated Play Groups: Guiding Children with Autism in Social and Imaginary Worlds with Typical Peers.

Brian Iwata, who will be holding a workshop on Functional Analysis and Treatment of Severe Problem Behavior.

Marth Herbert, who will be presenting Taking a Fresh Look at Autism: Chronic Dynamic State–not Fixed Trait

To see these presentations/workshops and much more, CLICK HERE!

Stephen Shore’s Journey with Autism

Stephen Shore is an assistant professor in the Department of Education at Adelphi University and also a member of the ICare4Autism Advisory council. At just 18 months old he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and tomorrow be will be speaking at Clarkson University’s David Walsh ’67 Arts & Sciences Seminar Series in Potsdam, New York. His presentation will be an autobiographical journey, titled “Life on and Slightly to the Right of the Autism Spectrum: An Inside View to Success,” which will cover the challenges he faced with verbal communication as a young child to becoming a professor.

When he was diagnosed, professionals said he had atypical development and was too sick for outpatient treatment, in fact, he was recommended for institutionalization. However, he had great support from his parents and others and began speaking verbally at the age of 4. Now as a professor, his research focuses mainly on figuring out best practices to address the needs of autistic individuals.

His presentation will focus on teaching of musical instruments, classroom accommodations, and issues faces by young adults, such as relationships, higher education, employment, and self-advocacy. He will start the lecture with an activity to demonstrate to his audience how it feels to have autism and the struggles to communicate and socialize.

Apart from his work with children and spreading his story, Shore does presentations and consultations on an international level. He has written a variety of books including Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger SyndromeAsk and Tell: Self Advocacy and Disclosure, and his critically acclaimed Understanding Autism for Dummies. He is the president emeritus of the Asperger’s Association of New England, and other autism related organizations apart from ICare4Autism.

Stephen Shore will be speaking at our upcoming 2014 International ICare4Autism Conference where he will present on developing employment opportunities for young autistic adults as well as autism as it relates to the Arts and our sensory systems.

For more information on the conference and registration, please click here

For a video on Stephen Shore’s life with autism click here

World Autism Awareness Day

Today April 2nd, 2014 is World Autism Awareness Day. The United Nations General Assembly highlighted this day in 2008 to celebrate the creative minds of children and adults with autism spectrum disorder. It serves to remind us that we need to create more opportunities for education, employment, and integration into society for autistics. Dr. Joshua Weinstein, CEO & Founder of ICare4Autism explains, “We have entered a new age of autism, characterized on the one hand by unprecedented incidence, and on the other by advanced research, earlier diagnosis, and progressively more effective intervention. The evidence is clear—autism and hope are no longer mutually exclusive, but the need for action has never been more urgent.”

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon also commented on the meaning of today saying, “World Autism Awareness Day is about more than generating understanding; it is a call to action. I urge all concerned to take part in fostering progress by supporting education programs, employment opportunities, and other measures that help realize our shared vision of a more inclusive world.”

And we at Shema Kolainu and ICare4Autism couldn’t agree more. Recently undergoing a project with our newfound partnership with the World Health Organization we are currently working on a global autism e-resource center that will create and improve access to autism information, research, and education across all companies and disciplines. This initiative is part of the UN’s resolution to make a comprehensive effort in managing autism spectrum disorder.

The UN recognizes that autistic people still suffer from discrimination and are denied fundamental human rights on a global and national level. Ban Ki-Moon further promotes that, “Schools connect children to their communities. Jobs connect adults to their societies. Persons with autism deserve to walk the same path. By including children with different learning abilities in mainstream and specialized schools, we can change attitudes and promote respectWhen we empower them, we benefit current and future generations.”

Schools and centers like Shema Kolainu aim to do just that, which is why we do not take our jobs lightly. Children are an important piece of the puzzle in creating a more inclusive society.

For the original article, click here

Potential Causes for Increase in Autism Diagnoses

Credit: Simons Foundation

Many reports and studies are coming out with startling statistics of autism on the rise. The CDC reports that 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and according to USA Today, autism rates have jumped 30% between 2008 and 2010.  These numbers can be alarming especially when just one generation back, autism was something we rarely heard of.

A new study conducted in Denmark has looked at the incidence of autism reported on a yearly basis. Researchers included only people up to 65 years of age using records from the Danish Psychiatric Central Research Registry. Between 1995 and 2010 nearly 15,000 people received a diagnosis along the autism spectrum. This was found to be an overall increase from 9 diagnoses per 100,000 people to approximately 39 diagnoses per 100,000 people.

Although researchers were not surprised by the increase, they were surprised that the number of males with a new diagnosis quadrupled from 13.2 to 58 per 100,000 people between 1995 and 2010. Whereas female diagnoses increased sevenfold from 2.6 to 18.6 per 100,000 people.

Professor of population health sciences and pediatrics, Maureen Durkin, says that better diagnostic practices could explain the increasing incidences of autism that we see worldwide. As more attention is given to symptoms as doctors are now screening much more than before, they are more likely to see it.

After analyzing their results based on age demographics, researchers found that children between 4 and 13 make up about 63 percent of the new autism cases. The fastest increases in new cases diagnosed are between 14 and 20 years old, and individuals between 21 and 65 years account for about 9 percent of new cases. However, the increase in diagnosis in adults has to do with the recognition of cases that were previously missed—an individual cannot develop autism as an adult.

Here at Shema Kolainu and ICare4Autism we understand the importance of increasing awareness and education surrounding the causes, consequences, and effects of autism. So although we are not alarmed by the increasing cases of autism we still remain concerned about misconceptions about autism and making treatments and therapies available to younger generations.

For a link to the original article, click here

Toys for Children with Autism

Toys can have a very positive impact on the development of children with autism spectrum syndrome. Choosing the right toys that will entertain your child and at the same time encourage development could be challenging. Toys are a big part of the development program at the Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices.

Keep in mind that ability of the child is more important than age recommendation when you are choosing toys for kids with autism.  Simple toys like puzzles and mazes will help your child to focus on completing tasks and will bring a sense of achievement.  Any type of painting or drawing will be great because working with tools will help improve your child’s motor skills.  Board games could be amazing entertainment for the whole family and it will improve the social skills of a child.

Besides regular toys, you can choose from a variety of electronic resources, apps and DVDs that are designed for children with special needs. Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices School use iPad apps such as Buddy Bear app and PlayHome.

Model Me Kids,, specializes in creating toys that focus on the development of social skills, by teaching children how to express emotions and the proper usage of body language. Another company, TeaChildMath, www.teachildmath.comwill help with improving basic knowledge of math and will enhance motor and writing skills of the child.

Generally any toys would be extremely helpful with connection, improvement of social skills and overall development.

For original story, please click here.


It is never too early to start thinking about transitions for your child. One of the biggest transitions will be from school to a workplace. Shema Kolainu understands the challenges that individuals with autism will face while searching for a job. That is why we will include the Global Autism Workforce Initiative in our International Autism Conference on June 30, 2014. This part of the conference will be specifically dedicated to developing and promoting Autism Workforce Programs.

A lot of businesses have started to realize that individuals with autism have a lot of talents that they can bring to a company. Some of the companies that are providing jobs for individuals with autism are ASP, Semperical and Walgreens. Andy Travaglia, owner at Lee & Marie’s Cakery and Bar Crudo in New York employs adults with autism. Andy organized her own bakery business because she had a dream to help people with autism by providing them with a workplace.

Employment not only gives financial independence for those with autism, but also an ability to gain social skills and self-confidence. People on the autism spectrum may take a longer time to train, but when they are ready to perform, autistic workers make exceptionally hardworking and reliable employees.

For more information about our conference, please visit

Original story

Brad can’t read or speak, but he can build almost anything

Brad can’t read or speak, but he can build almost anything

He is unable to read or speak but he can understand even the most confusing diagrams and blue prints.

Almost everyone has been put through the stress of having to build IKEA furniture and hates it. This is not the case for 25-year-old Brad, who lives in Edmonton, Canada, with autism. He is unable to read or speak but he can understand even the most confusing diagrams and blue prints.

Brad’s father, Mark Fremmerlid, decided to turn his son’s skills into a business called Made By Brad. For only a low price of $10 to $20, Brad makes a house call and builds your furniture for you. For Brad and Mark it isn’t about the money. “We just want him to have something meaningful to do” says Mark.

Brad’s story is not just encouraging to those with autism but should speak to employers as well. Employers should be focusing on the strengths individuals have and how they can create an opportunity to contribute to a job.

ICare4Autism understands the challenges that people with autism are faced with trying to enter the workforce. One of our solutions to this challenge is the Global Autism Workforce Initiative, the world’s first global comprehensive autism workforce development initiative. Another solution is the Project Autism WORKS, which is a new Workforce program working to enhance the lives of those young adults affected by autism and their families. This project will work with the business community to create workforce ready youth ages 18 and up, diagnosed within the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Along with these efforts ICare4Autism holds conferences to create awareness of these initiatives and projects. ICare4Autism conference 2014 will be held July 2nd to the 3rd. For a list of attending speakers please click here.

For more information on Autism, please follow the link here:

Glasgow Program Helps ASD Young People Enter Workforce


A program called SEARCH, based in Glasgow, Scotland, is assisting individuals with disorders- like autism- ease into the workforce. Continue reading

ICare4Autism Hosts Benefit For Autism Research and Education

Over one hundred people attended the ICare4Autism– a partner of Shema Kolainu Hear Our Voices- benefit for autism research and education last Thursday night at Inglot Cosmetics in the Chelsea Market Place.

Autism is a disorder that affects 1 in 88 children and is marked by non-verbal tendencies and repetitive behaviors. Last night’s benefit was intended not only to raise money for the cause, but also to raise awareness.

Guests included Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel, who spoke at the event, Ms. New York 2012 Jeanette Josue, and  former New York Giant Roman Oben.

The event featured artwork created by the students of Shema Kolainu. The pieces were auctioned off to the attendees, with proceeds going to the school.

Art therapy can be very helpful for autistic children given its hands-on, visual nature. Studies show that art therapy improves communication and verbal skills, two things children with autism often struggle with. Furthermore, students can use this artwork to cultivate creativity and a sense of individuality.

In total, five one-of-a kind pieces were sold, this highest one selling for $250. Roman Oben’s wife Linda, was also nice enough to buy some art.

Israeli author and guest of honor Lihi Lapid, also received a piece of artwork done by a Hear Our Voices student. ICare4Autism CEO and Founder Dr. Joshua Weinstein presented her with the art which included a plaque honoring her on behalf of the students. Lapid had visited and toured the school earlier that day.

During the benefit, she read from her latest novel, “Woman of Valor,” which describes her experience as a parent of an autistic child.

“She reminds herself that she’s doing the most important job anyone can do,” Lapid reads. “She’s a mother.”