Photo: Nicholas Fevelo
A Queens group plans to transform a Howard Beach Chinese restaurant into a $5 million comprehensive center for autistic children and adults.
The New York Families for Autistic Children facility is expected to be one of the largest of its kind in the borough, said President and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Baumann.
Renovations on the building are slated to begin next week. The center is to open June 1.
“We can be a one-stop shopping for all the services and programs that a family might need,” Baumann said. The autistic community “really deserves a place where they can learn, develop and grow.”
The facility will offer services ranging from providing diagnoses and job-readiness training to hosting family support groups and sports activities, he said.
The group, currently based in Ozone Park, also teaches children skills such as making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, figuring out correct change and even making a bed.
Autistic individuals often struggle with social interactions, language and exhibit repetitive behaviors, said Dr. Joseph Buxbaum, director of the Seaver Autism Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
But “early intervention increased their functioning in life, their social abilities, even their IQ,” he said, noting about 1% of the population has the disorder.
Kim Mack Rosenberg, president of the National Autism Association New York Metro Chapter, said there aren’t enough services available for autistic individuals.
“Often we find services available in Manhattan [rather\] than the outer boroughs,” said Mack Rosenberg, who lives in Manhattan with her 11-year-old autistic son. “Kids really need the services to make educational, social and emotional progress.”City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) said he used a chunk of his discretionary money to fund the center. “They are helping parents access the services they need, ” he said.
Kim Tirado, 53, of Maspeth, said she “can’t wait” for the New York Families for Autistic Children center to be completed.
She currently shuttles her 14-year-old autistic son to the group’s programs held in different locations throughout Queens.
“It’ll be a center where people can belong,” said Tirado, whose son has shown steady improvement since he became involved with the group. “It can’t happen soon enough.”
Trapasso, The Daily News