A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of taking part in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Autism Center at the Ontario County ARC. The Center is an important community resource that will play a critical role in helping individuals with autism and their families. Bill Castiglione, Executive Director of the Ontario ARC, and the Honorable Jack Schuppenhauer, NYSARC President, joined me at the ribbon cutting. The dedication served as a reminder for each of us to recognize children with special needs, especially those affected by autism.
AUTISM AFFECTS 1 IN 110 CHILDREN
According to the organization Autism Speaks - the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism - autism affects 1 in 110 children, 1 in 70 boys and, most concerning, autism prevalence figures are growing. Clearly, this issue touches many families: you likely know someone, or know of someone, dealing with autism.
As noted by the National Institutes of Health, autism affects the brain's development of social and communication skills. People with autism can have difficulty with social interactions, verbal and nonverbal communication. They can be overly or under sensitive to sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste. It is critically important that we provide the necessary resources, support and understanding to families touched by autism because autism touches us all. You can learn more about autism by visiting the Autism Speaks website.
A WONDERFUL AFTERNOON OUT FOR FAMILIES LIVING WITH AUTISM
In an effort to provide such support, I am proud to partner with the Autism Center at the Ontario ARC to present a "sensory friendly" movie matinee specially designed for the needs of children with autism. The Smith Opera House, located at 82 Seneca Street in Geneva, will be showing the family movie "How to Train Your Dragon" at noon on Saturday, June 11. There is no need to RSVP, the sensory friendly movie is free and open to the community. The good folks at Ontario ARC are dedicated to helping individuals with special needs, and I am happy to sponsor this movie. Please help spread the word about this great opportunity for local children in the Geneva area.
"SENSORY FRIENDLY" FILM EXPERIENCE IS A CHANCE FOR SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN TO ENJOY THEMSELVES
A sensory friendly film experience provides autistic children and their families with the opportunity to enjoy something that many take for granted - a simple afternoon out at the movies. The specially designed atmosphere takes the pressure off children to be silent and sit still. The theater lights are soft, and the normally booming surround sound is lowered. Children will not have to sit and focus on a movie for two hours; it is acceptable to walk around, talk, and even dance in the aisles. Parents, caregivers and children can have a wonderful and rewarding experience as a family, spending quality time in public in a supportive, stress-free atmosphere.
All parents cherish time spent with their children. Every mother and father wants an opportunity to experience quality family time in a comfortable public setting, and children with autism deserve a safe, nurturing environment that meets their special needs and gives them the freedom to enjoy being a kid. The upcoming sensory friendly movie matinee I am sponsoring will provide just such an opportunity. It is my hope that by hosting this film, we can give children and their families an enjoyable day out at the movies. Little things like this can go a long way toward helping enhance the quality of life for children and families living with autism.
PROPERTY TAX CAP IS FINALLY IN SIGHT!
Regular readers of my weekly legislative columns are already well aware that I have spent the last several years tirelessly pushing, prodding and calling on certain liberal politicians in Albany to recognize the severity of New York's property tax crisis and respond by delivering real property tax relief. In recent years, a large part of my effort has been focused on advocating for an up or down vote on a real property tax cap.
After years of urging the Assembly Majority to take action, the property tax cap is finally in sight for New York homeowners! I was honored to introduce Governor Andrew Cuomo at a recent press conference at the State Capitol announcing that a property tax cap was likely before the end of session this June. The news is welcome relief for overburdened homeowners across our state that pay some of America's highest property taxes.
UNFUNDED MANDATE RELIEF MUST BE PART OF THE SOLUTION
Capping property taxes is a critical first step toward New York becoming a more affordable place to live, but it cannot be the only step, or the last word. As I have been saying all along, a property tax cap by itself is simply not enough. Just as important as passing the property tax cap, we must deliver comprehensive unfunded mandate relief for local governments and school districts that are drowning in a sea of costly paperwork, rules and regulations imposed by Albany. A property tax cap without unfunded mandate relief is incomplete, which is why I will continue fighting for enactment of this policy priority before session concludes.
As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic or any other state-related matter should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.