WXXI AM News

autism

The Reel Mind Theatre and Film Series is underway. It features films and performances that address the stigma attached to mental illness and behavior disorders, while providing messages of hope.

One of the films in this year's lineup is the documentary, Deej; it tells the story of David James Savarese, a non-speaking young man with autism. Savarese joins us in studio to share his remarkable journey and the challenges he has overcome. Plus, we get a look at what's next in the series. Our guests: 

  • Dr. Larry Guttmacher, M.D., clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and co-director of the Reel Mind Film series
  • David James Savarese, poet, co-producer of Deej, and advocate for people with autism 
  • Dr. Lori Jeanne Peloquin, Ph.D., clinical psychologist in the Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Lynne Fisher, education program administrator for NAMI-Rochester

Tianna Manon/WXXI News

Staff at the Mary Cariola Children’s Center school say emergencies can be particularly scary for young people with autism. The center specializes in working with young people who have disabilities and on Thursday, teacher Denina Williams Goings organized a Sensory Friendly First Responders Event to help the students get more comfortable with emergency responders and their equipment. 

The death of 14-year-old Trevyan Rowe has shocked Rochester, and it has sparked calls for change in local school policy. How did it happen? What can be fixed, and who is ultimately accountable?

Our guests discuss it:

  • T. Andrew Brown, vice chancellor for the Board of Regents
  • Melanie Funchess, member of the Rochester City School Board and director of community engagement for the Mental Health Association of Rochester
  • Terrie Meyn, vice president of strategic initiatives for Happiness House and CP Rochester

We begin 2018's Dialogue on Disability Week with a conversation about autism. New research published in JAMA indicates that the rates of autism spectrum disorder among U.S. children remained stable from 2014 to 2016. That's a change from earlier studies, which suggested that autism rates rose steadily over the past 20 years. The authors of the recent study pointed to changes in diagnostic criteria, more public awareness, and more children being referred to doctors as among the principle reasons for the earlier increases.

Yet, as physicians, advocates, and parents are quick to point out, the stabilization shouldn't detract for exploring new treatments and adaptive experiences for children and adults with autism spectrum disorder. This hour, we discuss a range of issues related to autism, and explore options for care in our community. Our guests:

  • Dr. Susan Hyman, M.D., chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at UR Medicine's Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong
  • Mary Walsh Boatfield, CEO of CP Rochester, Happiness House, and Rochester Rehabilitation, and co-founder of the Golisano Autism Center
  • Michelle Maney, parent of a teenager who is on the autism spectrum
  • Sandra Erb-Petruccione, parent of an adult who is on the autism spectrum

There's a lot going on in the local autism community: The U of R has the brand-new Levine Autism Clinic. On South Avenue, there are plans for the new Golisano Autism Center. And this weekend, national experts will be in town to give talks, run workshops, and help lead a conference on autism. So what does the latest research tell us? Our guests:

  • Suzannah Iadarola, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital
  • Chris Hilton, mother, and finance and operations director for AutismUp
  • Terrie Meyn, COO of CP Rochester

This conversation is part of WXXI’s Inclusion Desk, spotlighting issues related to disabilities. The WXXI Inclusion Desk is part of Move to Include — a partnership to encourage thoughtful discussion about issues of inclusion and the differently-abled.

We talk about creative therapies for children with autism. Research proves that art can directly impact brain development in people with autism. We talk about the benefits of activities that incorporate music, dance, film, visual arts, writing, and more. 

We also preview the documentary, Generation A: Portraits of Autism and the Arts, which airs Thursday, January 26 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV. Our guests:

This program is presented as part of Dialogue on Disability Week – a partnership between WXXI and Al Sigl Community of Agencies – in conjunction with the Herman and Margaret Schwartz Community Series. Dialogue on Disability is supported in part by The Golisano Foundation with additional support from the Fred L. Emerson Foundation.

Parents of children with autism have expressed their shock and concern after North Miami police shot a caregiver of a man with autism. Police have said that when Charles Kinsey was shot, they were trying to shoot the man with autism next to him. The officers mistook a toy truck for a gun, despite Kinsey's insistence that the man was frightened and not armed.

For parents, this is an extreme example of what happens when authorities are not trained to understand how to interact with people who have autism. From schools to police, parents want to know if proper training is happening. Our guests will discuss it:

  • Chief Michael Ciminelli, Rochester Police Department
  • Deputy Brian McCoy, Monroe County Sheriff's Department
  • Rachel Rosner, director of education and support services for AutismUp
  • Dave Whalen, director of first responder disability awareness training at Niagara University

ABC News correspondent John Donvan has a brand new book called In a Different Key: The Story of Autism. The book provides a tour of the history of autism -- from scandals and shame, doctors blaming parents for the conditions, to breakthroughs and success.

Donvan is coming to Rochester to be the guest speaker at AutismUp's annual gala on Saturday. The organization recently moved into a large new headquarters in Webster. Our guests:

Children with autism are getting a performance specially tailored to their needs. The Rochester City Ballet is performing The Ugly Duckling in a way that is aimed at children with autism, or other disabilities that can cause sensory disturbances (see the study guide below).

Our panelists explain how they've done it, and we talk about the impact of inclusion in the art world. Our guests:

  • Jimmy Orrante, choreographer, The Ugly Duckling
  • Nichole Gantshar, executive director, Rochester City Ballet
  • Laura Silverman, Ph.D., assistant professor, neurodevelopmental and behavioral pediatrics, UR Medicine
  • Chris Tryon, child life specialist, Golisano Children’s Hospital, UR Medicine
  • Natalie Tryon, teenager who lives with autism
  • Lisa Carling, director of accessibility programs, Theatre Development Fund, National Autism Theater Initiative

As part of WXXI's Dialogue on Disability initiative, we discuss a documentary that explores the challenges of romantic relationships for people diagnosed with autism. Autism In Love follows the lives of four adults at different places on the autism spectrum opening up their personal lives as they navigate dating and romantic relationships. The film will be screened Monday night on WXXI. Our guests:

This program is presented as part of Dialogue on Disability Week – a partnership between WXXI and the Al Sigl Community of Agencies – in conjunction with the Herman and Margaret Schwartz Community Series.  Dialogue on Disability is supported in part by The Golisano Foundation with additional support from the Fred L. Emerson Foundation. 

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