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By Betsy McCaughey 

July 26, 2015 | 8:00pm First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles. Photo: WireImage


Good news. The R word — “retarded” — is being relegated to the trash can, just like the N word. A new national poll, commissioned by the Shriver Report, shows that nearly nine out of every 10 people consider “retard” as a boorish, cruel word that simply shouldn’t be used.

The medical establishment agrees. The newest edition of the handbook of mental disorders replaces “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability.” Part of the credit for this increasing civility and acceptance goes to the Kennedy clan and their cause, the Special Olympics. Anyone who has attended a Special Olympics comes away moved by the dignity and perseverance of these athletes.

You’ll get your chance this week to watch the World Summer Games, which launched Saturday in Los Angeles. This is the largest ever event of its kind, with 7,000 athletes from 177 countries (even our new best ally, Iran) competing in Olympic-style events including cycling, aquatics and weightlifting. The Special Olympics was started by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who was saddened that her own disabled sister Rose had been shut away for life beginning at age 23.

In 1963, Rose’s brother, President John F. Kennedy, called for a new approach, moving the mentally ill and intellectually disabled out of state hospitals into small group homes and their local communities. Though well-intentioned, it was an impractical idea for dealing with the severely mentally ill. Many released from state hospitals now languish in jail cells instead.

But deinstitutionalization has been a huge success for the intellectually disabled. Since Kennedy’s time, there’s been a 98 percent drop in children in state institutions. Now the intellectually disabled can live in more normal circumstances and acquire a measure of independence, instead of being warehoused behind locked doors.

Even so, it’s still a mixed picture for them and their families. Breaking into the workplace isn’t easy. Only 34 percent of the intellectually disabled work, mostly in what are called “sheltered workshops” that pay below minimum wage and still keep them apart from other employees. Advocates are pressuring state lawmakers to end these government-subsidized workshops and require employers to pay at least minimum wage.

Looming ahead is the problem of who will take care of the intellectually disabled — including those with Down syndrome, autism and low IQs — when their parents or other caregivers die. Some 730,000 people with ID depend on a caregiver over age 60.

Considering these challenges, which can outlast a parent’s own life, 67 percent of American women who find themselves pregnant with a Down-syndrome baby abort. That rate is even higher — a staggering 92 percent — in Europe. Behind these statistics are the emotionally wrenching decisions of prospective parents who can’t imagine taking on this task.

In the United States, routine screening for Down syndrome began about a decade ago, and the resulting abortions have caused the American population with Down syndrome to plummet 30 percent since then. For parents who didn’t make the decision to abort and are dealing with the daily challenges and triumphs of the condition, watching the Special Olympics will be especially joyful.

The Games show what’s possible, and the courage and determination innate to all humans, regardless of their IQ.

Take heed, ObamaCare architect Ezekiel Emanuel. He’s argued that organ transplants and other scarce resources shouldn’t go to the mentally disabled, who are “irreversiblly prevented” from contributing fully to society. Fortunately, 87 percent of Americans disagree with that cold calculation, according to the new national poll, and want the intellectually disabled to have access
to organ transplants.

It’s a sign that Americans are becoming ready to embrace the humanity of the intellectually disabled. One reason for that generosity of spirit will be evident when you tune into the Special Olympics. The games are doing a lot to remove the stigma from intellectual disability, though the race is far from won.

Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and author of “Beating Obamacare.”


25 years after landmark Americans With Disabilities Act, efforts to aid the disabled continue

Changes sought in employment, independent living



July 21, 2015                                           




Landmark 1990 Legislation Extended Civil Rights Protections to Disabled Individuals

 ERIE COUNTY, NY— The Erie County Office for the Disabled will join numerous partners on Sunday, July 26 at Canalside in Buffalo to participate in nationwide celebrations centered on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), which prohibited discrimination against individuals with disabilities and also assured them equal opportunities. Signed on July 26, 1990 the ADA brought individuals with disabilities into mainstream American life by creating community standards for disability-accessible design, encoding protections for the rights of the disabled, and guaranteeing that disabled individuals were entitled to the same employment considerations as those without disabilities. 

“This celebration affirms the rightful place of people with disabilities in our country, underscores the importance of protecting the rights of all citizens, and provides an opportunity to see the many ways that disabled individuals contribute and give back to our community,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.  “We have come a long way in just 25 years to ensure equal opportunity for the disabled, but there is more to do. I thank Executive Director Cammarata from the Office for the Disabled for constantly advocating for those with disabilities and keeping issues affecting people with disabilities at the forefront.” 

The ADA and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”) give civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. The ADA and ADAAA also assure equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities for access to businesses, employment, transportation, state and local government programs and services, and telecommunications. 

Executive Director of the Erie County Office for the Disabled Frank Cammarata III added, “The ADA continues to change life for millions of Americans and has made our country more inclusive. Today we are celebrating the achievements of the past 25 years and making a pledge to another 25 years of advocating for equality for all people, including those with disabilities.” 

Free celebrations in Buffalo at Canalside and Wilkeson Pointe will be held from 2 PM until dusk in conjunction with similar events happening nationwide, and will include youth events, educational offerings, music, dance, adaptive water sports, zumba, yoga, food, entertainment, and more. 

Along with the Erie County Office for the Disabled, organizational partners for the ADA 25th Anniversary celebration include WNY Independent Living, Inc.; Autism Services Inc.; Independent Living of Niagara County; Mental Health Peer Connection; OAHIIO; Independent Living of Genesee Region; Self Advocacy Association of New York State; Deaf Access Services; Parent to Parent; the Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities; Explore and More Children’s Museum; WNY Adaptive Water Sports; Learning Disabilities Association; the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation; Disability Education and Advocacy Network (“DEAN”); Canalside;  Accessibility Resources of University at Buffalo;  and the Center for Self Advocacy and Parent Network of WNY. 


Members of the DDAWNY Family Committee have been working with Scott Brown (Channel 2 - WGRZ) to develop a news segment addressing the critical issues that affect many families seeking residential supports and services.



Families in Crisis/Residential Needs. 





Afterschool Care

Designed for Young People with Developmental Disabilities

Now Accepting Participants!

Western New York’s leading organization helping individuals with developmental disabilities and special needs lead more heathy, independent and productive lives currently has openings for its afterschool respite programs in Buffalo.

The Programs

  • For young people, ages 4 to 21
  • Free to families, pending eligibility

Great Activities

After the Belle Program

104 Maryland Street

Buffalo Afternoon Respite

2635 Delaware Avenue

  • Assistance with homework
  • Arts and crafts
  • Peer socialization
  • Community outings

To enroll or for more information, call 716.817.9215



Looking for a job you’ll love?




What is Afternoon Respite?


After school care for young people with developmental disabilities, ages 5 to 21.


Program instructors assist with a number of enriching activities, such as homework, arts and crafts, peer socialization, community outings and more!


Western NY's leading human services agency is now seeking program instructors for our Southtowns Afternoon Respite program!


Apply today at www.people-inc.org  


Job Requirements


• At least 18 years of age

• High school diploma or GED 


• NYS driver’s license that meets agency policy 


• Pre-employment drug test








Academy of Theatre Arts:  Newest summer program is a half-day, one-week camp where children will explore different aspects of theatre with a final performance based on a favorite children's book.  (3 & 4 year olds)

Achievers-n-Believers:  Summer Science Program July 6-August 28th.  Children learn about science while having fun.

American Academy of Ballet (Williamsville): Princess Camp

Artpark Camp Offerings:  Art Camp, Theatre Camp and Rock Camp

Aurora Waldorf (West Falls):  Early Childhood Camp for ages 2-6 and Day Camp for ages 6-12


Bead Creative (Williamsville):  Summer Bead Camp for ages 6-12 and 13-18

Boys & Girls Club of Buffalo:  exciting summer themes!

Bricks 4 Kidz (Southtowns):  Themes include- Mining and Crafting, Angry Birds/Bad Piglets, Comic Creator Camp and more.

Buffalo Museum of Science:  An assortment of Discovery Camps offered for children ages 3-15.

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens:  Half day art and botany camps may be combined for a full day camp option. Most camps for ages 5-12 with one advanced week-long camp for ages 10-16.

Buffalo Equestrian Center:  5 weekly sessions beginning July 7 for ages 6-adult

Buffalo Seminary:  over 12 NEW classes this year


Camp Centerland (Getzville):  for children ages 4-15

Camp Cherith of WNY:  Quality Christian Camping in WNY

Camp Hickory Hill: Full week and half week Christian camps in Varysburg, NY.

Camp Mercy:  Girls only

Camp Turner:  Overnight camping for boys and girls in a Catholic environment located in Allegany State Park.

Canisius College Science Camp:  for children entering grades 5, 6, 7 and 8

Cardinal O'Hara High School:  For grades 5-8

CEPA:  Summer Art Programs

Cheektowaga Day Camps:

Circle C Ranch:  in Delevan NY

Clay Hands Pottery (Clarence):  Details

Cradle Beach (Angola):  We offer three unique programs that meet the educational, social, emotional and physical needs of each child while helping those children achieve their full potential in life

Creative Essence (Clarence):  3 days camps 


Daemen College Summer Camps: students entering 6th grade for fall 2015.  For registration info call:  716-839-8550

 Dance Time (Williamsville/Clarence):  Summer Fun Dance Camp

David  Demarie Dance Studio (Clarence):  6-8 year olds and 9-12 year olds

Doodlebugs Childrens Centers:  Various locations with fun summer camp themes.


Eastern Hills Next Gen Preschool Camp (Williamsville):  May 26th-June 19th

Elite Heat All Stars:  Cheer Camp, Adventure Camp, and Princess Camp. Sessions available for ages 3-18.

Elmwood Franklin:  Sing, dance, build, swim, discover, solve, laugh, explore, compete, share, play and learn at Elmwood Franklin Summer Camp.

End of Summer Blast Camps  (Williamsville):  Grades 1-6!


Fencing Center of Buffalo (Cheektowaga):  summer camps begins in July 

Flips Gymnastics & Sports (Lockport):  We'll offer your child excellent fitness programs where they can have fun and still receive an educational experience.

Forrestel Horseback Riding Camp (Medina):  Forrestel is special because of our small size. With an average 

3:1 camper to staff ratio

, children don't get lost in the crowdFrank Lloyd Wright's Martin House Complex

 (Buffalo):  Architecture camp for grades 3-8 and grades 7-10


Genesee Country Village & Museum: Summer camps available with both historical and outdoor themes. Ages 4 and up.

Greater Buffalo Gymnastics & Fitness Center (Amherst:)  starts July 6th!

Greendale Farm (Holland/East Aurora):

Guitar Factory: Summer Rock Camp for budding musicians from ages 8-18.


Happyland Day Camp (Amherst):  Where Kids have Fun!   ( pre-k through 11)

Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum (North Tonawanda): Summer camp sessions for grades K-2 and 3-5 in North Tonawanda.

Hoffman School of Dance (Southtowns)

Holiday and Leisure Rinks:  from beginner through advanced hockey camps

Hyatt's All Things Creative:  starts June 29th.  Age groups are 5-8, 9-12 and 13-17


 Italian Camp (Daemen College):  Monday, August 3, through Friday, August 7, 2015 (9:30am - 3:30pm)


Jindo Martial Arts (Tonawanda):  ages 5 and older

Just For Kids: Summer camps offered at both Grand Island and Williamsville locations for full days, with breakfast, lunch and snack provided.


Kelkenberg Farm of Clarence:  Young Farmer's Program in its 30th year, for ages 6-10.

Kelkenberg Farm of Akron:  Summer Farm Program includes "pony rides, baking, crafts, games, hiking, swimming and more." For ages 5-11.

Kenmore/Tonawanda Schools Day Camp:  Swim lessons, Golf lessons, Tennis lessons and more!

7 Kids Play (East Amherst):  Healthy Starts Camps, Mindful Kids Yoga Camp and TheraPlay Kids Motor Camp .


Legacy Equestrian Center (East Amherst):  Tuesday through Friday camps


Master Chong's Summer Camps for Kids:  Games, arts and crafts, sports, and martial arts instruction (no experience necessary)

Mavypoppins Literature Camp:  for ages 3-8 at 7Kids Play

Microsoft Youth Sparks Camp:  details on this FREE camp

Monkey See, Monkey Do...Children's Bookstore (Clarence):  camp brochure here

Mt St. Mary Day Care (Tonawanda):  June 29-Sept  4, 2015


Neglia Conservatory of Ballet (Buffalo):  Neglia Ballet's Storytime Explorers is a creative arts summer camp (ages 4-8) where children are the story keepers and their imagination the storyteller.  August Camps only.

Niagara County Community College:  various

Niagara Falls Culinary Institute:  Kids ages 8-18

Northtown Boys & Girls Clubs:  Camp Spirit all day camps available


Orchard Park Recreation:  for ages 3-16 open to all children from all areas


Page 1 Preschool:

The Park School (Snyder):  Park's summer day camp is an exciting and fun way for children from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade to enjoy a safe, challenging, and stimulating summer day camp experience

Pinot's Palett Art Camp:  July 13-17 AND August 3-7

Power Station Volleyball Camps:  takes place at select high schools 


Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve:  Experience "Kids in the Woods," a week-long summer program at Reinstein Woods that gets kids outside and connects them with nature!

Road Less Traveled Productions (Buffalo):  Summer Institute for ages 11-23

Rolly Pollies:  AM Camp and PM (afternoon) Camp available

Roots of the Future Montessori:  August 3-7 from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm. 8970 Main Street Clarence, NY

Rosebud Equestrian Adventures (Arcade):  We welcome horseback riders of all levels - whether you are a experienced competitive rider, recreational rider, or a beginner rider who so far has only been able to dream about being on a horse - we have something for all ages.


Sherry Martin Dance (Williamsville):  Summer Dance Programs

Skibbereen Farm (Orchard Park):  Weekly camps July through August

SCB Performing Arts (Depew):  View registration and camp details

The Summit Center:  The Summit Center operates two camps for children ages 5-17 with high functioning autism and attention deficit disorder


Tifft Nature Preserve (Buffalo):  Discovery Camps run during July and August for children ages 4-11.

Tumble Bee Gym (Hamburg):  Summer Gymnastics Camp


 University at Buffalo:  Youth Camps and Programs


West Side Rowing Club (Buffalo):  Boys and Girls ages 12-15

Willowbrook Junior Golf Program:  a six week program of instruction and play for ages 7 thru 16 taught by a PGA Head Professional.

World of Discovery Summer Camp (Williamsville):  Camp themes include - Let's go to the Beach, Let's go to the Castle, Let's go to the Jungle, Let's go to the Moon and more!

Wyomoco Summer Camp:  Quality, Affordable Summer Camp in Varysburg, NY



YMCA Buffalo Niagara:  Camps for ages 3-16 at numerous locations throughout the Buffalo Niagara area.

YWCA of Niagara (North Tonawanda):  For ages 5-12 and begins June 29th





Special Needs Parent 

Support Group 

Gather with other moms and dads who understand what you’re experiencing, regardless of your child’s diagnosis. We’ll support and encourage one another as we pray together and share resources. We’ll also look at what the Bible has to say about our kids and our role in their lives. 


2nd Thursday every month, 6:15 - 7:45 pm 


Kenmore Alliance Church, Room 303, 175 Bonnett Ave.,Tonawanda, NY 14150 

For information, contact: 

Phil & Shannon Welty at 417-3042 (text/call) or e-mail smwelty@gmail.com


 Be Part of an Exciting NEW Project!

 **   Family Driven Planning   *** 

Collaboration of Hillside Family of Agencies & School of Social Work,

University at Buffalo 

      Do you have a child with a developmental/intellectual disability? 

      Do you feel like you or your child could use more support? 

Family Driven Planning is to help increase the support network for children and youth with developmental disabilities and their caregivers.  Hillside staff have been doing Family Driven Planning with youth to:

(1)      strengthen their circle of support

(2)      identify & engage family members/other caring adults to increase support to the youth and their caregivers

(3)      increase youth’s quality of life, support their interests and dreams 

The project is for children and youth who:

  • Have a developmental or intellectual disability
  • Currently eligible for but not yet receiving residential services
  • Between the ages of 8 to 25 years
  • Receive Medicaid or are eligible for Medicaid 

The first 35 youth/families to enroll will participate in the Family Driven Planning with Hillside.  The next 35 will be placed on a waiting list to be a comparison group for the project.  A representative from the School of Social Work will talk with participants about relationships, quality of life, and Medicaid services at the start of Family Driven Planning and again 6 months later in a location convenient to the family.  Youth will receive $5 gift cards at both times and there is no cost to the family.   

Interested?  Questions?   

Please contact:

Annette Semanchin Jones, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work at the University at Buffalo

716-645-1862 or amsemanc@buffalo.edu 

For more information on Family Driven Planning at Hillside:

Michelle Belge, Director of Hillside Institute for Family Connections, 315-935-6701 or

Dan Lesinski, Hillside’s Director of Disability Services at 585-654-1465 

Thank you for your time and consideration! 

Ruth Malinowski

Early Childhood Direction Center

Special Needs Outreach Liaison

716 880-3881

716 880-3875 ( main number)


Please like us on facebook www.facebook.com/ECDCWNY1

Join our email list  ecdc@kaleidahealth.org 

Vickie Rubin, M.S. Ed.  Phone - 716-880-3880 

Early Childhood Direction Center
3131 SHERIDAN DRIVE, People Inc Building
The only acceptable R-word is “respect”. 


7 Things Parents of a Child with Special Needs Should Know


The Learning Disabilities Association of WNY (LDA of WNY) provides support for parents and guardians who need assistance in getting the right services to help their child and pave their way for future success.

If your child is struggling in school it can be extremely stressful. The special education process can be a very trying time, because it may be unfamiliar to you. There may be things you are unaware of and school districts don’t always provide this information.

The LDA of WNY offers the following information to help you gain a basic understanding of what is involved in the special education process:

1) As a resident of a school district, your child is entitled to be evaluated at the school district’s expense and receive services at no additional cost to you. This is due to Federal laws that all school districts are bound under called FAPE and IDEA, which stand for Free and Public Education and the Individual with Disabilities Education Act. These laws have existed since 1975.

2) It is important to request to have your child evaluated in writing to your school district’s Committee on Special Education (not the principal) and state the reason why you would like to have your child evaluated. The Committee on Special Education (CSE) office or Pupil Services office will reply to your correspondence and request that you sign a consent form giving them permission to evaluate your child.
TIP: It is a good idea to start a folder for your child beginning with a copy of your letter (referral) and the consent form. Once this consent form is received by the school district, they have 60 school days to complete a psychological evaluation, speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy testing and hold a CSE (committee on special education) meeting.

3) You are a very important member of the CSE meeting. The district may have gotten to know your child through the evaluations, but you spend valuable time and know your child best. You are the one who can provide the information on your child’s likes and dislikes, how your child reacts to and completes homework, how they handle school projects. This information is valuable to your child’s success in school.

4) Not all children evaluated will be found to need special education. Upon evaluation, your child may only need few accommodations to succeed. This may fall under the category of 504. Maybe your child is having a lot of difficulty in math and the evaluation determines your child would benefit from extended time on tests and a smaller location to take tests in. These accommodations can be fulfilled with a 504 plan.

6) If your child is found eligible for special education, an IEP (individualized education plan) will be developed. To create an effective IEP, parents, teachers, and other school staff must come together to look closely at the student’s unique needs. The purpose of your child having an IEP is to give your child a “level playing field” in the educational arena. There are a couple of things about this statement that deserve specific attention. First of all, the CSE is only concerned with the things that affect your child at school. Maybe your child’s bedroom is a disaster; this does not affect the school. However, if your child’s desk is just as disorganized as their bedroom, this becomes a school problem. The inability to be organized is having a negative effect on your child’s education. Secondly, the plan needs to be individualized to your child. Your child may have similar needs and may have an accommodation that is the same as another child; however their IEP should not look the same as someone else’s. The reward for turning in their homework needs to be something that motivates your child personally. Passing the class may be enough for some, other children may need something additional. Lastly, the IEP is not meant to allow your child to do better than the other children. What an IEP is meant to do is give your child as much of a chance as the other children in their class or grade. If your child is receiving a sticker for turning in their homework, the rest of the class probably is not. Chances are this is only a short-term solution for your child, but will be in place long enough for your child to complete their homework and remember to turn it in. The reinforcement of this behavior will slowly be phased out until the sticker is no longer needed and the IEP can be amended.

7) Whatever is determined necessary for your child to succeed and is written in the IEP has to be done. An IEP is a legally binding contract that must be upheld by the teachers and the school. Things put in writing to assist your child need to be completed. Even when there is substitute teacher, the IEP needs to be followed. The IEP cannot be changed without the parents’ consent and the parent does have the right to disagree. The parent is an equal member of the IEP team. The information provided here is only meant to give you an idea of your rights as a parent. If you would like more information, please contact LDA at 716-874-7200 and request the educational advocacy department.

In today’s technological society we like to think we have all the answers at our fingertips. The truth is, sometimes it takes another person to see us through a stressful situation. The LDA of WNY educational advocacy team is available to assist you in the special education process. They will listen to your concerns and provide suggestions as to what may help in the future. There is no charge for this service.

 Learning Disabilities
Association of WNY
2555 Elmwood Avenue
Kenmore, NY 14217
1-888-250-5031 Outside of Erie County


AUTISM Syracuse ECDC Spring bulletin! A lot of great info 

Good afternoon!

As Autism Awareness month draws to a close, we would like to share our latest ECDC bulletin on Autism. We designed this bulletin to provide a brief overview of Autism and the process to having an evaluation and possible services for young children. We hope that this introductory information will help parents/caregivers to answer some of their questions and alleviate some of the anxiety surrounding such a diagnosis for their child. We certainly could not answer everything in such a brief resource. As always, parents are encouraged to reach out for assistance and support for further information. Links to local support groups are included. Please visit the link to the bulletin on our website:


As always, we appreciate when you let us know when you will be sharing our resources with others and how many that you plan to share.

Happy Reading!

Maria Gill, Interim Director

Mid-State Early Childhood Direction Center

Syracuse University

805 S. Crouse Ave

Syracuse, NY 13244-2280



315-807-8580 – cell

315-443-4352 – office

315-443-4338 – fax


New club looks to include people with disabilities in WNY races

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Rollin’ Athletic Club Inclusion Network, or RACIN, is giving the opportunity to people with disabilities to participate in running events around the community, including 5K races.

The organization started with BJ Stasio who has cerebral palsy. He wanted to join in on a 5K event with his work, but was told he could not participate because he is in a wheelchair. Stasio then teamed up with a few of his co-workers and Buffalo Racin was started. Now, the group assists people with both developmental and physical disabilities participate in race events around WNY.

Buffalo Racin is teaming up with the Heritage Centers for their annual 5K run/walk.

Jennifer Battisti of the Heritage Centers said the partnership is natural because both organizations have similar missions. The event will be this Saturday, May 9 at 10 a.m and registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

The course takes participants around downtown Buffalo and along the waterfront.



April 8, 2015              



New Service to Benefit Residents with Speech, Hearing Impairments; Traditional Telephone Calls to 911 System Still Preferred Communication Method 

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Commissioner of Central Police Services John Glascott, Emergency Services Commissioner Dan Neaverth, Jr., and Executive Director of the Erie County Office for the Disabled Frank Cammarata to announce that “text to 9-1-1” is now available to Erie County residents seeking assistance during an emergency. While traditional telephone calls to the system remain the preferred method of communication in an emergency, the alternative “texting” form of communication will be beneficial to individuals with speech or hearing impairments, as well as for use in situations where a telephone call is not possible such as when a crime is in progress or when the caller is facing domestic violence or abuse. 

“Adding a texting component to the 9-1-1 system allows individuals who may not be able to speak into a telephone for whatever reason to access emergency help when it is needed, without ever speaking a word. In accidents with injuries, in domestic violence situations, or whenever a person can’t speak but needs help, a text to 9-1-1 will get assistance on the way,” said Poloncarz. “However, everyone should be aware that use of the text to 9-1-1 service carries the same responsibilities as the traditional phone 9-1-1 system, and that this is not something to be abused. This is a life-saving resource, and frivolous or non-serious usage of the system could result in critical resources being diverted away from an individual who really needs help. The system is there to be used when it is needed, and as with the traditional 9-1-1 phone system, abuse of the system carries penalties.” 

Over the past several months, Erie County’s E-9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center received major equipment upgrades to provide these enhanced 9-1-1 capabilities. Text messages to 9-1-1 follow the same parameters as other texted wireless messages; callers are limited to 160 characters and reception and service will be limited if cell phone service is interrupted. 

“We have been working with the mobile carriers in the area such as Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile to make sure this system is operational for our citizens,” said Erie County Central Police Services Commissioner John Glascott. “All of the public safety telecommunicator call takers at the 9-1-1 center have been trained to respond to text-to-9-1-1 calls. After a vigorous testing period we are pleased to activate it and offer it as another life-saving tool for the public.””

 “This system provides better access to the 9-1-1 system for the deaf and hard of hearing community and will also help people who may be non-verbal,” added Executive Director Cammarata. “Assistive technologies for people with a disability have greatly increased in the past few years, allowing them greater access to services. This is another terrific and helpful example.”  

“Erie County will be one of the few counties in Western New York capable of handling text-to-9-1-1 calls,” said Michelle Kerr, Erie County’s Deputy Director of Law Enforcement Communications. “The 9-1-1 text message rings in similar to a normal phone call. The incoming text message will appear on all of our equipment. Once we answer the call, a text screen will open, at which point text dialogue with the caller can begin.” 

In most cases Erie County’s equipment will be able to see the general location of the caller/texter. If for some reason text to 9-1-1 service is found to be unavailable, the caller will receive a text message instructing them to make a phone call because there is no text service available to 9-1-1 at that time. When the call is over, the caller will receive a text message confirming that the dialogue has closed. 

County officials remind everyone that calling 9-1-1 remains the fastest and most efficient way to communicate with emergency personnel. 

The following steps must be taken in order to text to 9-1-1 during an emergency:

 •          Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” field. 

•          The first text message to 9-1-1 should be brief and contain the location of the emergency and type of help that is needed. 

•          Push the “send” button.                                         

•          Be prepared to answer questions and follow all instructions. 

•          Text in simple words and do not use abbreviations. 

Below are a few things to know about the text to 9-1-1 service: 

•          Text location information may not be equal to current location technology. 

•          As with all text messages, 9-1-1 messages can take longer to receive, can get out of order, or may not be received. 

•          Text-to-9-1-1 is not available if you are roaming. 

•          A text plan is required to place a text to 9-1-1. 

•          If texting to 9-1-1 is not available in your area, or is temporarily unavailable, you will receive a message indicating that texting 9-1-1 is not available and to contact 9-1-1 by other means. 

•          Photos and videos can’t be sent to 9-1-1. 

•          Text to 9-1-1 cannot include more than one person. Do not send an emergency text to anyone other than 9-1-1. 

•          Don’t text and drive.



Families needed for interview with physician assistant students- can you help? 

Professor Erica Newsome from Daemen contacted me hoping we can help connect the Physician Assistant  students to family's with a child at home who has a developmental disability.   The interview will take about half an hour and can be conducted at a mutual date. The children must also be of school age and under 18. 

As part of the physician assistance program at Daemen College students need to conduct a mini survey with families who have a child under the age of 18 with a developmental disability. 

If you are willing to participate please provide the following information: 



Phone number 

Email (if possible)  

Age of child  

Professor Newsom will then assign the students with a family. The students are responsible to reach out to the family and set up time to meet.  

Thank you for your support.  

Professor Erica A Newsom 

Vickie Rubin, M.S. Ed.  Phone - 716-880-3880 

Early Childhood Direction Center
3131 SHERIDAN DRIVE, People Inc Building
The only acceptable R-word is “respect”. 



Budd Bailey’s Running: Group puts focus on including the disabled

on February 14, 2015 - 7:22 PM, updated February 14, 2015 at 11:45 PM 

A group of Western New Yorkers believe that as many people as possible should have the chance to be involved in local running events. During the past few months, they’ve tried to do something about it.

They formed the Rollin’ Athletic Club Inclusion Network, which shortens to “RACIN!”

“I work for the Western New York Developmental Disabilities Office as a psychologist,” Eric Frank said. “One of my colleagues, BJ Stasio, is in a wheelchair, and he was unable to enter the Corporate Challenge. We said, that’s not cool. We need to make sure people in wheelchairs, and those with developmental disabilities, can take part in local operations.”

Frank and the rest of the group contacted Frank Cammarata of the Erie County Office for the Disabled along with other groups in 2013 on what to do next. It should be noted that RACIN! is not a government program and received no funding from that source, and it’s also separate from Frank’s employer.

A committee was formed, monthly meetings were held, and an organization was formed. RACIN became a part of the Developmental Disability Alliance of WNY. All of that, naturally, was the easy part.

“Financially, it’s going to take a big effort,” Frank said. “We’ve been talking to people in the community. Our goal is to get people in the racing community on board. The goal is inclusion for people with disabilities. They haven’t been included in activities that are out there. We want to break through.”

There were a couple of obvious starting points. The group contacted race directors of 5-kilometer events around the area to see if they would be willing to accommodate such participants. They were.

Then RACIN! collected enough money to buy a racing chair. A basic chair costs about $2,300, while one that has extra stability built in goes for $3,400.

“In 2014, we were in five races – Linda Yalem Run, Breaking the Sound Barrier, Heritage Center, Dash for Diversity and Kidney Foundation,” Frank said. “This year, we’re slated to be in 10. About five races came up to us and said, ‘We’re inspired, we’re all about inclusion.’ ”

Sending one person out on a race course isn’t a small task under these circumstances. It takes a team of people to do it. Some of the assistants take turns pushing a person and the chair around the course.

“It’s an average of five people,” Frank said. “We’ve had a number of community members be pushers. If you talk to the pushers, they say it’s what Buffalo is all about, that it makes sense to break down barriers. ... They love it because they love running, and open it up to others. You run alongside and get to know the people in the chair a bit.

“We’ve had high school students on local race teams. We’ve had parents, fathers and mothers, who make up a core group that goes racing.”

Veteran runners who have taken part in many races know that street surfaces around Western New York can be on the bumpy side. What’s more, weather like this weekend’s certainly will ensure that “pothole season” will be with us for a long time in 2015.

Frank said his organization has tried to account for potential problems in that area.

“It’s been a concern,” he said. “We’ve looked for races with flat terrain. If it’s too hilly, it’s too much work for the pushers.

“Also, each group has a scout to ensure that the group goes in the right direction. We want to make sure it’s a smooth ride. We’ve done a good job of ensuring the safety of those in the chair and of the pushers.”

By the way, while wheelchair athletes are the most visible participants in some ways, RACIN! also has a goal of expanding past simply wheelchair athletes.

“We also want to get people with any disability walking or running with us,” Frank said. “We’re not limited by the chairs we have. We can get many people. What some people might see as a limitation, we’ll find a way to get as many people as possible involved.”

There’s a nice reward for those who are part of the program – the reaction to those who are aided as they travel the course.

“The people who have developmental disabilities – some are verbal, some are not verbal – they just light up,” Frank said. “They are lighting up right on the track.”

Additional information about the organization can be found at buffaloracin.org.

Race calendar






Looking for support? There's help available! Our group is dual-purposed, and serves as both a parent/guardian support group in addition to a child play group. Children with visual impairments ages birth - 5 are who our group primarily serves, however; this group also welcomes children with any developmental delays or disabilities in that age range. We meet once a month to talk about concerns, obstacles, and successes you may be encountering with your child, in addition to allowing free play time for our children. The overall purpose of this group is to provide support and allow for new connections to be fostered among a community of parents, caregivers, and children


You can contact ECDC Staff at ECDC@kaleidahealth.org 

telephone 1-800-462-7853




Creating a Sensory Friendly Home Environment for Children on the Autism Spectrum - National Autism Network


Individuals with autism often experience sensory difficulties that can make everyday interaction painstaking. Noises that typically go without notice to the general public can be a huge challenge for an individual with autism, and prevent them from being able to focus on a given task or possibly even lead to a meltdown.  

Although not considered core features of autism, sensory issues, which can impact all 5 senses, have been found to affect nearly 90 percent of children on the spectrum in some way or another. While it is impossible to control others out in public, there are steps you can take as parents to make your home more sensory-friendly for your child. A child's sensory needs could involve the reduction of stimuli or an increase of stimulation depending on the situation.2 This article will discuss features you can add in your home to make it more comfortable for your child experiencing sensory sensitivities.  

Children with autism have sensory needs that may be viewed as odd to the layman individual unfamiliar with the disorder. Actions like lining objects in a row or stimming can seem peculiar, but may offer therapeutic value for that individual. Below are some examples of household features that can assist these sensory needs as well as items that can transform your home into a living space that is more sensory friendly:  

Design: When planning a sensory-friendly environment it is important to envision how the design or the layout of the area will affect the child's abilities. You are going to want to design a room to be sensory-friendly by constructing it so that it cuts down on outside stimuli, is organized (and can be easily reorganized).  Plan as much out in the design phase as possible including furniture arrangement, color schemes, child's needs, how much sunlight is getting in, the type of theme you desire, if any, outlet placement, what your budget is, the types of sensory devices/activities you would like to include, etc.   This is most important in rooms in where your child spends the majority of their time, such as their room, the living room, kitchen, and bathroom.   

Color: Colors have the power to incite specific emotions and feelings inside of us. For example, red, which triggers stimulation, appetite, and hunger, and yellow, which triggers feelings of happiness and friendliness, are often used by fast food companies to get you to subconsciously desire their food. 

When it comes to colors for children on the autism spectrum, less is more, as some research has found that children with autism see color more intensely than their neurotypical peers.  

One of the cornerstones of making a room sensory-friendly is to cut down on overstimulation. To stay true to this concept, colors should be low-toned, or muted, patterns should be minimal, and colors should be chosen wisely. For example, blue has been found to be the most calming, while reds were found to be the most arousing in children with autism. No matter how you plan your room's colors, you can always add sensory stimuli to them according to your child's needs.  

Lighting: This is where you get to really be creative, especially for your child's room. A calming environment will naturally be void of intense lighting from fluorescent bulbs, but in their place a number of different lighting techniques can be used. Bright or fluorescent lights can be disorienting for those on the spectrum, causing them to seek refuge or isolate themselves in a more controlled environment.  Every room in your house should have a dimmer switch so that the lighting can be adjusted according to your child's needs. For your child's room, you can introduce lighting in a variety of ways. Black lights, Christmas lights, bubble tubes, projectors, LED lights, fiber optics, night lights etc. are all viable ways to provide lighting in your child's room.  Putting a piece of fabric safely around a lighting fixture can also reduce light. While there is a consensus within the autism community that fluorescent lighting should be avoided, the jury is still out on natural light. Some argue that natural light aids cognitive abilities and overall health. However, there are others who believe that natural lighting is detrimental to an individual with autism because distractions like glare, shifting sunlight patterns, and outside visual stimuli are too great. However, for a home setting natural light is encouraged, and there is nothing stopping you from drawing a curtain if it becomes too big of a distraction. Blackout curtains can be helpful, especially for children who often experience sleep issues.  

Organization/Structure: Let's face it, kids will be kids, and that means they will be messy. However, keeping rooms structured and organized is important for maintaining routine. Play things do not only need to be organized in a logical manner, but able to be easily accessed by your child whenever he/she pleases. Of the utmost importance is safety. Be sure to arrange furniture and your electronic devices so that there aren't any exposed wiring or outlet holes. Your structure and organization doesn't need to end in your child's room or even have to involve their possessions.  Other organization tips include a toy bin on wheels, a sensory "sweet spot" full of pillows and other sensory-friendly items, simple routines, and anything that will make your child feel more comfortable.  

Furniture: The type of furniture you have in your house can go a long way to providing structure and organization, as well as ensuring your child's safety. Children tend to be rough on furniture, especially their own, so make sure to purchase durable items. In the dining room, cushioned, heavy chairs with long backs provide the most support and security. For children who have poor motor skills, a low-rise table may be suitable to prevent from tipping or falling out of chairs.  

In their room, arrange furniture so your child can easily transition from activity to activity without breaking routine. Also, arrange the furniture in such a way that they are away from shelves or other places where the child may climb. It is also important to keep in mind that doorknobs and hooks can be viewed as invitations for climbing in the eyes of a child who views the entire world as their personal play palace. For children who have the motor skills and the desire, there are sensory room designs that include rock climbing walls.  Labels on the furniture can be helpful at not only assisting a child with identifying an object, but also its purpose. For example, if you label a bed as "for sleeping", then your child will be less likely to use it as a trampoline. Your furniture can take on the same principles of other sensory items, and that is to either calm or stimulate the senses depending on the situation.  

Sensory Items: While it may seem impractical to introduce some of the items you might see at an Occupational Therapy session, such as a ball pit (although, one can be easily created using an empty child's pool and plastic balls) , many of the therapeutic tools utilized during OT can be affordable and easily applied in the home. Big pillows, rope ladders, tactile paths/discs, OT therapy tunnels, swings, and many other variations on these themes are essential for enhancing and calming your child's sensory needs. Your child's mattress is another item that warrants careful consideration as sleeping problems are common for children with autism, not to mention potential bed wetting scenarios. Like the rest of the furniture your child uses, your bed frame should be heavy and durable. Weighted blankets, although not entirely without controversy, have been used by some to help children with autism conquer sleep issues or for the calming effect.   As for the mattress itself, you want it to be firm, soft, and durable, which is why memory foam or latex mattresses work best, but take your child to the store for a test drive, if possible. For themed rooms, your child's bed frame can make bedtime feel like more of an adventure than a chore. Some families have installed curtain rods in the ceiling above the bed so the child can block out excess light and have more privacy.  

Shelves: This may seem like a small feature to be given its own section, but shelf placement and use can help keep your child engaged. First of all, arrange shelves horizontally as to suppress any notion of climbing. Secondly, children with autism tend have a proclivity for lining things up or stacking items (the latter of which can come in handy when deciding upon organizational tactics). According to The Sensory Hippo, which provides idea for sensory living, "creating a play space in your home that appeals to their desire to line things up can be calming for them."  

These long shelves should be placed just below eye level and be installed in multiple rooms in the house.  These shelves can be therapeutic as a calming strategy, but can also work as a new coping strategy. For example, if a child with autism isolates themselves when strangers come over, then you can give them a new toy or special item they find comforting for them to line up and play with in the living room or family room. The new coping strategy can work to help get them through the visit as opposed to running into their room. 

Bathroom: The bathroom is likely anything but a haven for your child on the autism spectrum. The bathroom can cause a number of sensory sensitivities such as the ringing of echoes on tile surfaces, cold floors, hard/cold toilet seats, loud toilets, running water, and bright lights reflected on mirrors can all be disorienting for individuals on the spectrum. 

The first thing you should consider when trying to make your bathroom more sensory-friendly is safety. Some safety issues to install would be a bath rail and a rail next to the toilet, a toilet lock, non-slip surfaces on tiles and in the tub, non-slip stools, etc.  In terms of comfort, non-slip rugs and mats next to the tub and sink, cushioned potty cover, shelves and hooks for towels to decrease the echoes in the room, night lights over bright lights (natural lighting during the day if possible), and a towel warmer to cut down on the anxiety shivering can cause children. Other features you may want to consider is a removable, handheld shower head, a shower head with LED lights, portable bath jets that can reduce pain and induce relaxation through massage, a waterproof pillow, bath toys (naturally), music in the bathroom, and be sure to utilize non-toxic cleaners. Glass mirrors frequently used by your child should be replaced with a reflective acrylic surface to avoid breaking. 


There are infinite possibilities out there when it comes to constructing a more sensory-friendly environment in your home that cover a wide range of expenses. You do not have to break the bank to create an effective sensory-friendly environment and some sensory items you can even create myself. Include your child in the planning, decision making, and creation process as much as possible. Tailor their sensory-friendly environments to their favorite subjects because after all they will be spending a lot of time there. Have fun with the process and remember it doesn't have to be perfect.  

We would love to hear about some sensory activities or objects you have installed in your home in the comment section below. We have also included some resources relating to sensory-friendly environments below. 



The Learning Center (TLC) has open spots for Adult Education classes for adults with a learning disability. TLC provides individualized educational instruction to adults who do not have a high school diploma. TLC offers small group instruction to those interested in obtaining their GED, as well as classes to improve basic literacy in reading, writing and math. For more information, contact the Learning Disabilities Association of WNY by emailing information@ldaofwny.org or calling (716) 874-7200.
Thank you! 

Parrish Gibbons

Director of Community Relations

Learning Disabilities Association of WNY

O: 716-874-7200

F: 716-874-7205

C: 716-390-9435



Family Support Services

Family Support Services Coordinators are available at each of OPWDD's Developmental Disabilities Regional Offices (DDROs) to help families access Family Support Services. Each DDRO also has a Family Support Services Advisory Council to represent the interests of family members and people with developmental disabilities. The councils work in partnership with the DDROs to make decisions supporting families and loved ones.

Family Support Services can help in times of crisis when a family member or loved one becomes ill, or when things get difficult at home for other reasons. With assistance and support, families can often work these situations out and stay together. Find out more information about these services and supports by calling the Family Support Services Coordinator at the DDRO representing the county in which the individual/family lives.

DDROs continually work with local community agencies to ensure that other family support services for people with developmental disabilities and their loved ones are available when and where they are needed. These family support services may include:

  • information and referral
  • family and individual counseling
  • family-member training
  • recreation
  • camps (Adult Overnight Summer Camp Information )
  • after-school programs
  • transportation
  • sibling services
  • support groups
  • service coordination

DDROs can also arrange for specialized equipment and home modifications.  For information about these types of FSS supports and services, please contact the Family Support Services Coordinators Listing of the Developmental Disabilities Regional Office (DDRO) representing the county in which the individual/family lives.

 Vickie Rubin, M.S. Ed.  Phone - 716-880-3880 

Early Childhood Direction Center
3131 SHERIDAN DRIVE, People Inc Building
The only acceptable R-word is “respect”. 



The men’s forum is open to fathers and male caregivers of children with special needs.   The forum meets in the evening once a month throughout the school calendar year at Bornhava, 25 Chateau Terrace, Amherst, New York.  

The group has been meeting monthly for several years.  Approximately twelve fathers have participated in the group, with an average attendance of seven or eight men, fathers of birth to five year olds.  It has been a great success.  There are ongoing discussions about coping with the handicapping conditions – the stresses, challenges, and rewards of being a father/male caregiver of a child with special needs.  There are also many practical discussions about what people are doing for their kids and how to access additional services. 

The group is facilitated by a licensed psychologist, Donald Crawford, PhD. 

Contact:    Ellen Crawford @ 839-1655  


 The TRAID-In Equipment Exchange Program is a statewide service that connects individuals with disabilities, searching for an affordable means to acquire needed devices, with people who have devices they wish to sell or donate. Call the NYS Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities at 800-624-4143 or email at webmaster@cqcapd.state.ny.us and ask for the TRAID-IN Equipment Exchange Program to list, at no cost, devices being sought or devices that are available. 


STARLIGHT STUDIO GIFT STORE-click on websitehttp://www.cafepress.com/starlightstudiogiftstore

Summer Social Group! 


A free four week social skills program focused on building positive social skills, healthy relationships, and community engagement. 


Mondays and Wednesdays from

10:00 am— 12:00 pm 

Session 1:

July 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22, 27, 29  

Session 2: 

August 3, 5, 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 26  


Participants must be between the ages of 7 and 10, be eligible for services through OPWDD, and reside in the community.


People Inc. Recruitment Office

692 Millersport Highway 

Amherst, NY 14226 

(Corner of Millersport & Addison) 

To enroll, contact: Christine Battaglia 880-3838

- or -

Sherece Wildman 880-3748












Mubu the Morph Book Kick-off Event
Our Mubu the Morph book kick-off event will be held on Saturday, August 8, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Museum of disABILITY History, 3826 Main Street, Buffalo. The free family-friendly event includes book readings, fun activities for children and refreshments.

Mubu the Morph is Clarence, NY resident Stephen Nawotniak’s first children’s book and offers lessons on self-image, self-confidence and character development. Suitable for children grades K to 3 and the people who love them, Mubu the Morph is packaged with a free coloring book and bookmark making it a great gift and a beneficial tool for parents and teachers interested in sharing important lessons about individuality and a heartfelt read for anyone interested in the talents that make each of us special. For $9.95, the book is available at the Museum of disABILITY History’s store and online, store.museumofdisability.org and mubuthemorph.com.

To RSVP for the event, call 716.629.3626 or click here for the Facebook event page.   




Pierce Lawn at Canalside Buffalo near Buffalo’s Naval Park

July 6th through September 4th

Monday through Friday at 11:30am and 12pm 

• Whole-body workouts inspired by animals and the 

alphabet. Instructors lead you through the alphabet 

with animal movements and corresponding rhymes 

that teach kids about animals. Workouts are based on 

the book Exercise Like The Animals from A to Z

Looking for a fun workout at a beautiful Buffalo outside 

location? Camps, families, and out-of-towners are 

welcome. Two year olds (with an active adult) on up to 

grandparents will enjoy this activity. 

• FREE and open to the public. Each day Canalside 

has other fun activities for children. Make a day of it 

around your other summer activities.


After 30 years of obesity, Jerry Turcotte had learned the 

lesson that “Exercise that’s fun gets done.” With the help 

of his son Max, he wrote a workout book for kids called 

Exercise Like The Animals from A to Z. 

Jerry got fit and

became a certified group fitness instructor and youth 

fitness coach.

Now you and your child can experience what it’s like to 

play like an animal while exercising through 

the alphabet with these great summer programs. Children ages 3 and 4 laugh and learn the most from Exercise Like The Animals, but the movements and rhymes can be enjoyed by anyone. 

Give a child a step ahead on their fitness habits and






River Fest Park, 249 Ohio Street along Buffalo’s Historic River

July 6 through July 30th, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

and Thursday from 9:30am to 11:00am.

• Whole-body workouts followed by Animal Art and a Park Walk & Talk. 25-minute workouts inspired by animals, many native to Buffalo. Animal Art workshops are hosted by illustrator Ms. Taryn Lorraine of Exercise Like The Animals from A to Z, while Park Walk & Talk focuses on park animals, their eating habits and their relationship with the water.  

• For children ages 2 (with an active adult) up to 12.  

• FREE registrations for camps and families! Call Jerry Turcotte at (716) 310-4234 or reserve a spot at www.exerciseliketheanimals.com.  Space is a limited to 40 child participants each day plus responsible adults.


                            FALL PROGRAMS 

Looking for new preschool and after school programs for the fall? Now is the time to sign up. We recommend daily exercise and a weekly dose from a trained professional. 

Contact Jerry Turcotte at (716) 310-4234 to learn more and sign up. 

Exercise Like The Animals is committed to helping your children and you to learn while having fun exercising. Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to working with you. We hope to see you soon! 

To Your Best, 

Jerry Turcotte 

Exercise Like The Animals, Owner, Author and Instructor 


Read the illustrated workout book with your children. 

Available at www.exerciseliketheanimals.com, Amazon or Talking Leaves Bookstores.

Program funded by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation,

administered by Arts Services Initiative


Funding for this program is provided by a Family Support Services grant from the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities.


Please contact Early Childhood Direction

(716) 880-3875 or e-mail: ecdc@kaleidahealth.org



If you are interested in attending but have transportation or other

barriers that would limit your participation, please let us know.


Provide a welcoming environment for parents and other caregivers

of children with autism spectrum disorders to meet, share experiences, ask questions and receive support. 







ECDC News, Events, Updates