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NAPA joins effort to 'fix' Autism

"Marilyn and Doug introduced us to Jamie Burke," Hudson said. "and it's amazing what he can do."

Through facilitated communication, Jamie said, "I think people may assume that if we cannot outwardly speak this to others, that we are content to sit back and stay in the shadows. Let me say explicitly, we are not."

He envisions doors being opened to young people like him, "letting all ease joyously through."

The Baldwinsville School District works to help children with special needs with the goal to integrate them into classrooms.

"We have an assisted technology team and evaluate the special needs of each student and what piece of technology will help the students become more independent," said Jeanne Dangle, Baldwinsville Superintendent of Schools. "The number of students with autism spectrum has increased significantly in the past five to eight years."

Donation boxes appeared this spring at the local Napa Auto Care Centers. The first goal is to develop a web-based training system for facilitated communication. People come from as far away as the West Coast to SU to learn the methodology, but not everyone is able to come personally. A new, web-based system will make training for parents and educators much more broadly accessible.

"We must presume competence of the people with whom we work," Biklen said. "If we do that, then our work become clear: work hard and with invention to find ways for them to show us their abilities."

The next goal is to develop a Center for Therapeutic Arts to provide an innovative environment for learning and development. Such a center could be a model that could be expanded to communities across the country and around the globe.

"We have big ideas, too," Hudson said. "We are thinking that this could go nationwide."

He plans to present a fundraising proposal to Napa Auto Care centers around the country.

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