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Anderson Center for Autism

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Mid-Hudson Coalition "Celebrates Abilities" at Founding Agency, Anderson Center for Autism

Thursday, June 26, Anderson Center for Autism will host the Mid-Hudson Coalition’s 21st Annual Conference "Celebrate Abilities" on the newly renovated campus on Rt. 9.

Staatsburg, NY, June 25, 2014 --( In March of this year, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report estimating that 1 in 68 children in the United States has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Agencies and many others serving individuals on the spectrum nationwide have rallied together to create added awareness around the startling rise in number, seeking additional support from the public as well as government officials. Local Staatsburg agency Anderson Center for Autism, celebrating 90 years, has also sought out reinforcement in obtaining the highest-quality services and opportunities for the over 300 individuals they serve. Thursday, June 26, Anderson Center for Autism will host the Mid-Hudson Coalition’s 21st Annual Conference ‘Celebrate Abilities’ on the newly renovated campus on Rt. 9.

Established in 1989 by Frank Mulhern, former CEO of the Anderson School (now Anderson Center for Autism), and others, the Mid-Hudson Coalition serves as a consortium of individuals and organizations throughout the mid-Hudson Valley with a mission to ‘improve the quality of services and supports for people in [the community] through ethical, highly trained and credentialed direct support workforce.’ The grassroots organization formed on the Anderson campus alongside several other area agencies during a press conference in which the Coalition’s constituents publicly declared ‘their desperate need for a reliable, educated, and well-compensated direct support workforce.’ Nearly three decades later, the Mid-Hudson Coalition has grown to encompass a variety of new partnerships and opportunities, and is pleased to come full-circle this June to revisit their founding family on the Anderson campus.

Anderson Center’s distinctive weekly talk show ‘1 in 68’, which airs on Real Country 1420 and 1260 and NewsTalk at 9:30 on Saturday mornings recently interviewed Mid-Hudson Coalition President, Jennifer Parsons. Serving as the Coalition’s board president and Staff Development Specialist at Anderson Center for the past three years, Parsons conveys in the interview the grave need for employment and education incentives and opportunities for direct support professionals in the field as to better serve the growing population of those affected by autism.

“[It is important] for people to look at this position [the direct support professional] as a professional position because it is…it takes tremendous skill and tremendous commitment,” says Eliza Bozenski, 1 in 68 host and Director of Agency Affairs at Anderson Center. Upon the Coalition’s inception 25 years ago, society had already met a pivotal changing point regarding the perception of, and care necessary for the developmentally disabled. “Enough time had passed by then that we were no longer really looking at institutionalizing and sort of hiding people away with developmental disabilities. However, it certainly wasn’t today.”

Whereas perceptions may have changed for the best, 2014 poses other threats that may deter organizations such as the Mid-Hudson Coalition and Anderson Center for Autism from best serving individuals on the autism spectrum. “In [the field of] human services, a lot of agencies are making huge cutbacks. As we know, there is a tough economic climate that we are facing and sometimes the education incentives are not there,” says Parsons. To further support the education of the area’s workforce, Marist College has joined the Coalition, offering a tuition discount for eligible agency employed individuals over the age of 22.

While advocating for a credentialed workforce, the Coalition also aims to improve aid on behalf of elected government officials – a point of contention for many who seek services and financial assistance for loved ones with a developmental disability. “We definitely try to advocate during legislation day and different times that we have with our officials to educate…them [about] what it is like to be a direct support professional…[and] why it is so important to keep the budgets up,” adds Parsons. The Coalition is grounded by a four-prong approach: education, agency development, informing government and the public, and self-advocacy. “We encourage the direct support professional to stand up and advocate for their position…the field…and the work that they are doing.”

The 21st Annual Mid-Hudson Coalition Conference will be held on the Anderson Center for Autism campus at 4885 Rt. 9, Staatsburg, NY from 8:00am to 4:30pm. This year’s keynote will be The Community Players “The Code” presented by the Mid-Hudson Training Consortium. Special guests will include Acting Commissioner Laurie Kelley, Deputy Director of Workforce Transformation Regis Obijiski, and Region 3 Director Joan Volpe of NYS OPWDD. There is still time to register. Contact the Mid-Hudson Coalition at 845-452-5775 x138 or register the day of.

About Anderson Center for Autism
Anderson Center for Autism is New York’s premier autism treatment and care center. It is a not-for-profit organization located in picturesque Staatsburg, N.Y., dedicated to providing the highest quality programs possible for both children and adults with autism. It employs nearly 800 specialists who are expertly trained to diagnose, treat, and care for adults and children on the autism spectrum.
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Brianne Radtke

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