Our Church Opens Minds through awareness about the variety of disabilities that affect people every day.  There is no us and them when it comes to disabilities.   All people are differently-abled and all people will experience some disability, at least once in life. A parish Opens Minds whenever it takes concrete steps to exercise God's compassion for people who are differently-abled physically, mentally or emotionally.  Under Autism drop the assisting definition and use this one: There are 5 disorders in the Autism Spectrum,  They are Aspergers, Autism, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and Rett’s Syndrome. 

Asperger’s - People with this disorder has difficulty with social interaction and exhibit some type of repetitive  interest or behavior.

Autism - There are 5 disorders in the autism spectrum. They are:  Aspergers, Autism, Childhood Disintegrative Distorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), and Rett's Syndrome. 

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder - Usually between the ages of 2 and 10, regression in two of the 3 areas of Autism occur.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Individuals that show some of the signs of the other disorders, but do not fit completely in another order and diagnosed with PDD.

Rett’s Syndrome - Children with this disorder develop normally during the first 5 to 18 months after birth.  Then the child’s head circumference shrinks while social, motor, language and cognitive skills achieved begin to diminish. Unique hand movement’s may develop such as wringing hands, repeated washing of hands, or putting them in their mouth.



National Professional Development Center on Autism - offers internet modules to increase our understanding of the disability

Autism Society of America - offers information and resources

International Collaborative Autism Network - offers online instructional modules on autism spectrum disorders

Asperger Syndrome - is a single resource for families, individuals, and medical professionals who deal with the challenges of Asperger Syndrome, Autism, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified.

International Rett Syndrome Association funds research for treatments and a cure for Rett syndrome while enhancing the overall quality of life for those living with Rett syndrome by providing information, programs, and services.

Center for Autism and Related Disabilities offers up-to-date information on trainings, research, resources and news on Autism. The 7th annual Statewide Conference will be held in Buffalo on April 19, 2013 at the Hyatt Hotel. 

Tool Kit for Employment: Adults on the autism spectrum have strengths and abilities that employers are just beginning to understand. We have created this Employment Tool Kit, written directly to adults with autism, to help them research, find and keep employment in the current, competitive labor market. Stories, tips and resources were developed by a collaboration of people, including adults with autism, dedicated to increasing the employment participation of adults on the spectrum. Click here for the kit.


Autism Services - the only agency in Western New York whose mission is to deliver of a broad range of services to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. ASI is devoted to long-term education, treatment, and support of individuals with autism of all ages and functioning ability across home, school, and community environments. ASI endeavors to enhance the state of awareness of autism in society as its prevalence continues to grow, and to improve the lives of individuals by providing effective services and supports.

Autism and Children’s Ministry Webinar, sponsored by Friendship Ministries - FREE at  explains the umbrella of diagnosis under Autism Spectrum Disorders and shares how church communities can respond.

Autism Internet Modules offers modules to increase knowledge in these areas: recognizing autism, autism at home, autism in the classroom, autism in the workplace and autism in the community. Canisius College and Summit Educational Resources - offers conferences, library, research and facts sheets

Autism Society of Western New York - offers professionals and parents information, resources, workshops, and support groups.

Summit Autism Center - facilitates collaboration with academic and research partners to study therapeutic interventions for individuals with autism with the goal of improving independence and long-term outcomes for this population.

The WNY Regional Center for ASD provides support to families and professionals in seven counties (Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Genesee and Orleans), including the 97 school districts in the region. The center offers brief workshops and resource materials that provide practical guidance to professionals and parents.





Faith Resources

NCPD (national Catholic Partnership on Disabilities) Autism Task Force offers Catholic supports and services for individuals on the autism spectrum.
Autism & Children's Ministry Webinar, sponsored by Friendship Ministries - FREE at explains the umbrella of diagnosis under Autism Spectrum Disorders and shares how church communities can respond.
Options for Eucharist - persons with autism may find the traditional Sunday mass setting too crowded, long or confining. An alternative could be to attend a week day or evening mass. A Eucharistic Service is held the Second Friday of each month at 7pm at St. Joseph University Chapel at 3275 Main Street in Buffalo. This twenty minute service is designed for those feel more comfortable in a less confining, less populated and shorter service.  For more information, contact Sister Jeremy Midura at 833-0298.


Support Groups

Autism Spectrum Disorder & Related Disabilities Parent Group meets the last Friday of the month at 7:00PM at the Hamburg Assembly of God Church, 150 Newton Rd., Hamburg. Contact Christine Hoff, 648-7356 (home) or 861-7638 (cell) for details, or visit

Children's Guild Parent Support Group meets the second Wednesday of the month from 6:30-8:30PM at EPIC/Parent Network of WNY, 1000 Main St., Buffalo. Free parking behind the building to provide a welcoming environment for parents and other caregivers of children with Autism and Spectrum Disorders to meet, share experiences, ask questions and receive support. For more information or to RSVP to the meetings, call 716-878-7600.

Connections Program Parent Support Group meets the first Monday of each month (no meetings Jan., July, Aug. & Sept.) from 7:00-8:30PM at Summit Educational Resources, 150 Stahl Rd., Getzville. Offers information on Asperger's Disorder and High Functioning ASD, Treatment Options, Educational Recommendations, Advocacy Strategies. It is conducted by Dr. Marcus Thomeer from Canisius and Dr. Christopher Lopata from UB. Contact Mary Pat Sperrazza, 716-629-3445 or   

Dunkirk Parents-for-Parents Support Group meets every second Monday of each month from 6:00-8:30PM at Chautauqua Opportunities in the Connections North building at 10825 Bennett Rd, Dunkirk. The group offers support, information, speakers and presentations and an opportunity to discuss common triumphs, challenges, issues and concerns. For more information, contact Tess Kerzner, 716-661-1057 or  

Grand Island Autism Support Group meets the first Tuesday or every month from 6:30-8:00PM at Realty USA, 2139 Grand Island Blvd., Grand Island. Peer-run support group. Come and meet other families that are affected by Autism, share ideas and experiences, vent about the brick walls we've hit, and most importantly realize that we are a growing community and that we are not alone. Contact Vienna at 716-430-5118 for more information and to RSVP to attend.

High Functioning Autism/Asperger’s Support Group - meets on the third Thursday of each month at Autistic Services at 444 Bryant Stratton Way in Williamsville. Contact

Iroquois Parent Support Group meets during the day throughout the school year. Contact jeanne Kacprowicz for dates and times at 716-652-8001 or  

Jamestown Parents-for-Parents Support Group meets every first Wednesday of each month from 6:00-8:30PM at the Resource Center Administration Building, 200 Dunham Ave. (old Celeron-school building), Jamestown. The group offers support, information, speakers and presentations and an opportunity to discuss common triumphs, challenges, issues and concerns. For more information, contact Tess Kerzner at 716-661-1057 or  


Free Downloads

Autism at MassThe Puzzle of AutismPractical Suggestions

Autism tolerance, compassion & tips to help children sit through Mass

The Blessings of Autism - a parent shares the blessings of having a child with autism

The Puzzle of Autism - explains the characteristics of people with autism

Teaching Tips for Youth with Autism - offers strategies to help children with autism learn

For more assistance from the Diocesan Disability Action Team, contact Dennis Mahaney or call 716-847-8393.

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