WXXI AM News

Inclusion Desk

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.

SWBR Architects

A new mandate from New York State is bringing big changes to organizations serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

We recently visited one organization that has been part of the Rochester community for 70 years.

Holy Childhood is getting ready to not only greatly expand the opportunities of its clients, but launch a new business.

WXXI ARTS INFOCUS

Music has a way of touching every one of us. Some of us may have a deep appreciation for the artistry in making music, others may appreciate its ability to convey emotion and transport us to a different place.

But, as shown at the Hochstein School of Music and Dance, music can also be used as a form of therapy. Expressive Arts sessions improve the quality of life for people who are well, and meets the needs of children and adults with disabilities, disorders, illnesses, or learning differences. 

Courtesy Aimee Levesque

At the Golden Globe Awards this year, Meryl Streep received an honorary award for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.

In her acceptance speech, she criticized President-elect Trump for mocking a reporter with a disability. Trump, who denies that, dismissed Streep’s comments on Twitter.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is due to release his budget on Tuesday, and agencies that work with those with intellectual disabilities are among those hoping for more funds. They say they need help to pay workers the new higher minimum wage.

New York’s minimum wage is going up over the next few years, to $15 eventually in New York City and lesser amounts upstate. Groups that provide services for the developmentally disabled rely on Medicaid reimbursements to pay their workers, and they say they’ll have a hard time meeting the higher wages without more money from the state.

At least one person in the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts did not agree Monday when Governor Cuomo's State of the State message included a full-throated pitch for ridesharing, like Uber and Lyft.  Todd Vaarwerk, director of advocacy and public policy for the Western New York Independent Living Center, does not agree with the pitch, saying ridesharing companies do not allow access for people like him, the state's disabled community.


Mary Cariola Children's Center has helped thousands of developmentally and medically challenged children and their families since opening its doors in 1949.

Now, according to Karen Zandi, the agency’s president, a new therapeutic respite program will allow the center to better serve youth with severe behavioral issues and their families.

“It's a very innovative program where we go into a family's home for a period of time, engage with them, and help assess what's the most challenging circumstance for them,” Zandi said.

Courtesy David Irish

In Betsy Irish’s room, it’s all about the music. There is a big boom box in the corner, framed CD jackets and a special box just for Christmas music.

She’s hanging out with her dad, David Irish, at her group house in a suburb of Rochester, N.Y. They’re doing one of their usual activities — reading the dictionary.

Karen Shakerdge

A coalition of local and state advocates are asking Governor Cuomo to increase the state-regulated pay rate for workers who support people with disabilities. Family members, staff, and a bipartisan group of politicians gathered at the ARC of Monroe County to ask for a $45 million budget increase.

The coalition known as “#bFair2DirectCare” asserts that low pay creates a high worker turnover rate statewide, and especially in more rural areas.

Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

The battle by disabilities’ rights groups to get more funding in the new state budget for the salaries of caregivers took the form of a protest in downtown Rochester on Wednesday.

About a dozen or so protestors gathered outside the Rochester Riverside Convention Center while Governor Cuomo was inside the facility for a meeting on photonics.

The advocates sounded a concern expressed statewide, that due to the recent increase in the state’s minimum wage, some caregivers for those with disabilities may opt for other jobs that pay more in the food service or other industries.

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