Posts Tagged ‘autism’

Spider-Man Reaches Out to Boy with Autism

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Spider-Man swung in for his first fantasy appearance in the Forest Hill, Queens home of this fictional boy-turned-insect’s  aunt in 1962.

Now, more than 50 years later, the superhero made his latest appearance last week in the dilapidated East Harlem apartment of Jamel Hunter, a Spider-Man-obsessed boy trapped inside his thoughts by autism.

Spider-Man’s author, Stan Lee, learned about Jamel and his obsession with the comic strip hero from a New York Times Neediest Cases profile written about this eight-year old who receives help from Catholic Charities affiliate Kennedy Child Study Center.

In an effort to reach through the autism, Mr. Lee sketched a personalized comic with a special bubble, “Hi, Jamel,” and had it hand delivered to the young boy in the housing project where he lives.

Read the full New York Times “Crime Scene” story now.

Opening Her Home to Disabled Children: A True Thanksgiving

Monday, November 24th, 2014

rodriguezLucky for the 40 abandoned New York City children that Josefina Rodriguez took in during recent decades and raised as foster children, this now 61-year-old woman loves children.  This is also lucky for Ms. Rodriguez’ oldest daughter, Hanny Casado, 40, who was born brain damaged and still lives at home.  It is lucky for Mia Rodriguez, 8, who Ms. Rodriguez took in as a foster child and later adopted.  And it is lucky for Natasha Rodriguez, 12, who Ms. Rodriguez also took in as a foster child and adopted regardless of the autism and mental retardation that make Natasha a more challenging child to raise.

Thanks to a wide array of support provided by Kennedy Child Study Center, an affiliate of Catholic Charities that assists children with developmental delays, this financially and emotionally stressed family continues to thrive.

“These are not real problems,” Ms. Rodriguez says when questioned about pressures she navigates every day.  “Problems are grave illnesses, when someone you love dies.  I have commitments, not problems, commitments to take care of my children.”

Read their story in The New York Times.

Celebrating World Autism Day – and the Differences That Make Us Special

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Join us as we celebrate World Autism Day.

Through a network of specialized services, Catholic Charities empowers and cares compassionately for the most vulnerable New Yorkers – non-Catholics and Catholics alike. The developmentally disabled child, the senior adjusting to recent blindness and the emotionally challenged adult need the intensive care and support provided by Catholic Charities to live with dignity and in safety.

“Do not fear people with Autism; embrace them,” says Paul Isaacs, a young writer with autism.
“Do not spite people with Autism; unite them.
“Do not deny people with Autism; accept them for then their abilities will shine.”

Are you or someone you know facing a physical or emotional challenge and looking for help?
Visit us at Catholic Charities and find out more.

Cardinal Egan Leads Avonte Oquendo’s Funeral Mass

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014


By Alice Kenny

Cardinal Edward M. Egan, the former archbishop of New York, delivered the funeral Mass at St. Joseph’s Church in Greenwich Village this weekend for Avonte Oquendo, the 14-year-old nonverbal boy with severe autism who disappeared from his school in Queens.  His remains, after months of searching, were found last week along the East River.

Cardinal Egan saluted the outpouring of kindness New Yorkers offered when they hunted for Avonte and now as they mourn his loss.

We understand, of course, that no one but Avonte’s parents can know the challenges they faced when they struggled to protect this special boy and the searing pain they feel now.

We understand this at Catholic Charities because, day in and day out, we provide support for persons with disabilities and their families.

To live with dignity and in safety, the senior adjusting to recent blindness, the developmentally disabled child, and the emotionally challenged adult need the intensive care and support provided by Catholic Charities. Through a network of specialized services, Catholic Charities cares compassionately for the most vulnerable New Yorkers – non-Catholics and Catholics alike.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Avonte and his family.

Do you have a disability or a family member facing challenges and looking for help?

For more information about a particular program and/or service, click below:

Supportive Housing for the Mentally Ill Caregiver Respite
Residences for Special Needs Adaptive Services for Deaf and Blind
Early Intervention and Special Education


If you need help in finding the services you need, please call the Catholic Charities Help line at: 888-744-7900.

For more information about Avonte Oquendo’s funeral, watch this video on CBS.

Autism Awareness Month: How to Support the Cause

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

By Marianna Reilly

April 2, 2012 — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is affected with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – a statistic that represents an increase of 78% since 2002.

Cardinal Dolan visits the workshop of Possibili-Tees, an organization that employs autistic and developmentally delayed individuals to produce custom screen-printed apparel and promotional items.

This figure is even more troubling in light of new research showing that these children are bullied and emotionally abused by their peers at an above-average rate.

A recent survey of 1,200 parents of autistic children found that 63% of children with an ASD were bullied by their peers. The survey, conducted by the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Interactive Autism Network, found that this bullying is often intended to instigate the emotional “meltdowns” that autistic children can suffer from.

Today, the United Nations recognizes World Autism Awareness Day to “spur action and draw attention to the unacceptable discrimination, abuse and isolation experienced by people with autism and their loved ones,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a written statement.

Throughout the month of April, observed as Autism Awareness Month, Catholic Charities encourages you to get involved in this important cause. Want an easy way to start? Learn about Possibili-Tees, an innovative nonprofit established as part of the work-training program at the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin (MIV), a Catholic Charities sponsored agency. Possibili-Tees produces custom-designed t-shirts and promotional items, and also provides gainful employment and job skills training to young adults with ASDs and other developmental disorders.

In a 2011 article in Autism Advocate, Possibili-Tees founder Tom Siniscalchi lamented the lack of employment opportunities for individuals with ASDs and the hesitance of employers to hire them. “It’s a great workforce, Just untapped,” Siniscalchi said of people with autism.  “After graduation… just a few [young adults with autism] end up landing jobs, and often it’s because their parents know somebody.”

You can support the workers at Possibili-Tees by ordering promotional items or screen-printed apparel for your company, school, or event.

Looking for more ways to learn more and get involved? Check out the resources below, and leave a comment to share your own favorite resources with us.

Autism Awareness Month Resources

Cardinal Hayes Home

Cardinal Hayes Home is a not-for-profit agency pro­viding residential care and treatment for young people who are developmentally disabled. The agency accepts ambulatory and non-ambulatory young people who are severely intellectually disabled. The individuals in the agency’s care are multi-handicapped. Some have a diagnosis of autism, others have cerebral palsy, epilepsy or neurological impairment.

Kennedy Child Study Center

The Kennedy Child Study Center is a nonprofit agency dedicated to assisting very young children who experience significant difficulties in learning and other areas of early childhood development. Additionally, Kennedy Child Study Center provides direct services and supports to parents and other caregivers as they seek to provide a rich family life in which these children can thrive.

How to Stop a Bully

How do we fight the dangerous cycles of bullying and hazing? Psychologist Dr. Susan Lipkins speaks with Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan about something she calls “Vulture Culture,” outlines the warning signs of hazing and offers suggestions for how to halt cruel and destructive behaviors.

Parish resources for Autism Awareness Month, from The National Catholic Partnership on Disability.

“Light it Up Blue”: Join Autism Speaks in replacing one of your lights with a blue light to “shine a light” on the cause.

Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism (book)

Read one of the first books to explore firsthand the challenges of living with autism. At the age of two, Carly Fleischmann was diagnosed with severe autism and an oral motor condition that prevented her from speaking. In Carly’s Voice, her father blends Carly’s own words with his story of getting to know his daughter.

Chamber Music Benefit Concert to support Autism Awareness Month (April 14)