By Ted Mebust
Springbrook’s Tom Golisano Center for Autism celebrated its 10-year anniversary this past Thursday, marking a decade since the expansion of its Oneonta campus. The event offered tours of the facilities, trolley rides provided by Leatherstocking Trolley Company, a parade of students and staff, and a dinner for all in attendance.
“It’s wonderful to have our donors here to remind us all what a difference this center has made in providing the highest level of support possible to our students,” remarked Patricia Kennedy, Springbrook’s chief executive, addressing the crowd at a private reception. The event lasted from 1:30-6:30 p.m.
The Tom Golisano Center serves students with a primary diagnosis of autism and has designed a personalized approach toward education. Those walking the halls and visiting classrooms with Traci Lanner, the school’s director, witnessed just how dedicated the school is toward that end.
Personal devices used to communicate with one-on-one instructors aid students in completing educational and vocational-skill-learning tasks. The rooms utilize visual and tactile cues to help develop spatial awareness. Cafeteria staff prepare personalized meals to accommodate students’ physical abilities. The gymnasium, which hosts Special Olympics basketball teams from across New York State, has walls specially designed to mute echoes, which are a possible trigger for autistic students.
All aspects of the center are designed to maximize student comfort, functionality and focus. While introducing many of the classes on the tour, Lanner said her students are simply the best, and it’s been a pleasure to help them achieve their goals. Since starting work with Springbrook in 1999, Lanner has been instrumental to the development of many recent programs and expansions.
Many of the center’s teachers are Springbrook Scholars, graduates of their educational initiative which offers aid for a variety of professional avenues. Through the initiative, Springbrook partners with colleges from the surrounding area to provide hands-on training to students along with master’s degree and clinical licensure candidates. Physical, occupational and applied behavior analysis therapies are only a few of the training opportunities available at the Tom Golisano Center for Autism.
Springbrook’s anniversary celebration marked a continued and growing affirmation of support from local community members and visitors from across the state.