Archive for the tag 'autism'

Previous walk. (Source: Shorefront Y)

Previous walk. (Source: Shorefront Y)

The following is a press release from the Shorefront Y:

This Sunday, June 8, 2014 at 11:00 a.m., the Brooklyn Autism Spectrum Disorder Initiative (BASDI) & the Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach will host its Fourth Annual Walk for Autism.

The annual Walk for Autism seeks to raise community awareness as well as crucial funds needed to develop additional programming along with maintaining vital ongoing services that are now available to families living with Autism & other developmental disabilities in southern Brooklyn. All proceeds from the walk will benefit programs at participating organizations serving children with special needs.

Walk for Autism participants, along with local politicians and participating organizations will gather right on the Coney Island boardwalk at the end of West 10th Street. This 1.2 mile walk will then conclude at the Shorefront Y (3300 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11235) where there will be an opportunity to learn more about special needs programming, network with peers, & enjoy refreshments.

What: Fourth Annual Walk for Autism

When: June 8, 2014 at 11:00 AM (registration starts at 10:00 AM)

Where: Coney Island Boardwalk at the end of West 10th Street in Brooklyn, NY 11224

Cost: Registration fee is just $10 per person and includes a raffle ticket & a free t-shirt.

Early registration is encouraged; however participants will be able to register on the day of the event starting at 10:00 a.m. For those who would like to register in advance or make a donation, please visit the following website:

Participating BASDI organizations are Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach, Marks JCH of Bensonhurst, & Kings Bay YM-YWHA, in partnership with UJA-Federation & J.E. & Z.B. Butler Foundation, & NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Cortez (Source: NYPD)

Cortez (Source: NYPD)

The Friday disappearance of an autistic 14-year-old student kicked off a weekend search throughout Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach, ending this morning when the boy was safely reunited with his family.

Ninth-grader Elicio Cortez went missing after he wrapped up the school day at Leon M. Goldstein High School (1830 Shore Boulevard). Cops tracked his last-known whereabouts down to Voorhies Avenue, near the Sheepshead Bay subway station, where he was caught on surveillance camera.

Cortez was known to spend time in the Coney Island area, and authorities, friends and family fanned out throughout Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach and Coney Island, passing out fliers over the weekend as they hoped for his safe return.

They were seen at Bayfest on Sunday, and fliers now hang on nearly every light-pole and bus station in the neighborhood.

Cortez usually takes a yellow school bus home after classes, not mass transportation, which his mother, Nancy Reavis, said he’s unfamiliar with.

The school’s bus driver was the first to tip Reavis off to his disappearance, PIX11 reports:

When his bus driver didn’t see him, she called his mom.

“She tells me, ‘Eliceo is not on the bus.’ She said, ‘[T]hey called him on the loudspeaker at school,’” the frantic mother recalled.

Reavis said she also received a call from the school’s principal who confirmed that her son was not in the school.

The Department of Education said they were assisting with the search.

“School officials are in contact with his mother and we are all deeply concerned about his well-being. Since this situation was identified on Friday we have worked and continue to work closely with NYPD in its investigation,” department officials said in a statement.

Ultimately, Cortez was found at 7 a.m. this morning near Oriental Boulevard in Manhattan Beach, according to the Associated Press. He was unharmed and reunited with his family in Flatbush. It is not yet clear where he spent the weekend.

Reavis told reporters over the weekend that she feared this was a situation bound to happen. She has been urging the school to provide a bus helper to ensure Cortez gets on the school bus after classes, a request the administration has resisted.

CBS reports:

Reavis said that her son went to the train station after leaving Leon Goldstein high. She is angry and said that she has fought with school officials about getting her son a ‘para’ or bus helper to make sure that he makes it home safely.

“I spoke to his counselor and they said ‘yes, we’re gonna do something, we’re gonna do something,’” she said, “This is what has to happen so they can help me?”


The folks over at Tete-a-Tete Cafe (2601 East 14th Street) are teaming up with the Shorefront Y, the Kings Bay Y, the JCC of Bensonhurst and several other organizations to help raise money for area children with special needs.

From now until June 8 – exactly one month from today – the cafe will be donating 50 cents from the sale of every medium-sized latte or cappuccino.

The funds will go towards the Brooklyn Autism Spectrum Disorder Initiative (BASDI) Fourth Annual Walk for Autism, which takes place on June 8 at 11 a.m. along the Riegelmann Boardwalk. The walk helps raise money for free programs for kids diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, helping Southern Brooklyn families who struggle with the financial burden required to meet their kids’ special needs.

Aside from buying some java, you can register to participate in the walk itself ($10), or donate money through the Shorefront Y’s website.

Konstantina and Eleana Vellios (via Facebook)

Konstantina and Eleana Vellios (via Facebook)

Sheepshead Bay mom Konstantina Vellios, 35, is trying to get to the bottom of why her 14-year-old autistic daughter got off the school bus shirtless and scratched up, but the bus operator and the school she came from have been short on answers.

The Daily News reports:

Eleana Vellios, who is largely nonverbal, was scraped up and traumatized when she left the bus outside her Sheepshead Bay home on Nov. 15.

“My child came out of the bus half-naked with scratches all over her back, shoulders, her spine, under her arms, her neck — pretty much everywhere,” her mother, Konstantina Vellios, 35, told the Daily News.

The bus driver and matron told Eleana’s baby-sitter, who was waiting for her at the stop that day, that the teen must have been injured at her school, the Association for Metroarea Autistic Children, near Union Square. But officials at the school assured the mother that her daughter left the school uninjured — and the mother said she believes them.

Ever since the incident, Eleana refuses to use the bus. Although she’s usually nonverbal, the teenage girl said she was “afraid” and “lady kick, hit.”

Vellios has since taken leave of her job to shuttle her daughter to and from class.

The driver for the bus company, Careful Bus Service, said the girl already had the scratches on her, and they informed the babysitter when they saw it.

The NYPD is investigating a case of possible child abuse. The Department of Education is also investigating.

Participants in this year’s Autism Walk.

When the Southern Brooklyn community wants to raise awareness for a good cause, they know how to do it – even in stormy weather.

On Sunday, May 19, approximately 170 Southern Brooklyn locals gathered at the New York Aquarium to walk 1.2 miles of the boardwalk to Coney Island Avenue. Together, they marched until Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton Beach to raise awareness for autism.

Lilach Koch, the Special Needs Program director at the Shorefront Y, said that walks like this are vital to create greater knowledge and education about autism, as well as raise funds.

“This will create a community that recognizes and accepts individuals with autism and supports their families,” Koch said.

The three main goals of the walk? To educate, to recognize, and to gain support for the programs for disabilities.

“It’s important that the leaders of the community understand that it’s a great cause. We are here. We need your support. These programs are scarce,” Koch said.

Two other local Jewish Community Centers – the JCH of Bensonhurst and Kings Bay Y – collaborated on the effort.

Autism is a developmental disorder of brain function. Characteristics typically include impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and non-verbal communication, and unusual, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests.

According to, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify 1 in 88 American children on the autism spectrum. Statistically, there are more children affected by autism than diabetes, cerebral palsy, or Down syndrome combined.

The event saw well known community figures like Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and a host of community volunteers.

“Our mission is to strengthen the skills of our clients and support them and their families from early childhood to adulthood. We believe in our developmentally disabled clients and direct them to become more independent, functional and happy individuals,” Koch added.

Koch explained that many of these programs are free to the community, and that Southern Brooklyn families cannot afford many of the more expensive options available.

“We do understand our families’ needs on both the practical and emotional levels, and we constantly seek for channels to provide families with as many free and low cost services and programs as possible,” said Koch.

Karreell Pereira, a Shorefront Y member, visits the community center weekly with her husband and young boys.  Her two sons, age seven and eight, were at the event as well, supporting after-school classmates.

“It means a lot to me, being around other parents. It opens my eyes. It shows me how other parents operate, and shows me how blessed I am,” Pereira said. “We are capable of making a drastic change. These programs need to be nourished and should be promoted.”

“They love it here,” she said. “It opens their eyes to what’s really going on in our community. It helps you see not only your situation, but other people’s situations.”

Currently, the Shorefront Y offers free after-school programs for children ages 5 to 13, a Sunday Funday social skills recreational program for children ages 5 to 12, and a series of other educational workshops for parents and families. They hope to support families in need.

Michelle Pisani-Hinojo said that rain or shine, she will support this walk for years to come. Her 11-year-old daughter, Amber, has autism.

“The weather put a damper on the event, but not on the spirit. It makes me feel like I’m not alone. The public is becoming aware. It feels good that people are willing to work together for awareness,” Pisani-Hinojo said.

“It’s symbolic, you know? Some days will be sunny days, and other day’s it’ll rain,” Pisani-Hinojo said. “Even on the bad days, you need to stay strong and still be supportive. We can’t give up.”


Several autistic and developmentally disabled people who previously lived in group homes in Sheepshead Bay are among the hundreds left displaced after Superstorm Sandy took a heavy toll on their facilities.

YAI Network, an organization which manages several such homes in the area, announced today that two of their homes in Sheepshead Bay were severely damaged, causing their autistic and disabled clients to move into temporary digs.

According to the release, one of the homes is on East 13th Street, and the other is on Avenue Z. Both were in Zone A and suffered a combined $300,000 worth of damage, mostly from the approximately eight feet of water that filled the basements.

“This is really like rebuilding the house,” said Vida Mani, the assistant coordinator in YAI’s Residential Department. “There was water and debris all over the place. One washer was on top of another, air conditioning units floated out of the wall, and we had a big refrigerator that ended up on a shelf.”

The East 13th Street home housed 10 residents and the Avenue Z location held six. All residents were evacuated ahead of the storm to different homes throughout Brooklyn, the release notes.

Aside from the damage, YAI said it lost $2.1 million in lost revenue due to a suspension of its day programs and medical practices, as well as overtime costs for workers deployed to help the displaced residents.

“This storm affected everyone,” said Stephen E. Freeman, CEO of YAI. “And it showed us so clearly that the people we support experienced the same sense of loss and disruption of life as other citizens. They couldn’t leave their homes, they couldn’t get to work and they couldn’t see their friends and families.”

Although FEMA reimbursements are expected to cover most of the repairs to the homes, it won’t cover the lost revenues. YAI has established a Storm Restoration Fund to not only cover some of the losses, but to upgrade their 100 group homes with permanent generators to prevent future disruptions. Donations can be made here.

A New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services Missing Adult Alert has been issued for the disappearance of Khalik Phillip, male, age 19, from Brooklyn.

He was last seen near Coyle Street and Avenue V in Brooklyn wearing an orange sleeveless sweatshirt and blue jeans. Khalik suffers from Autism.

If this person is seen, call 800-577-TIPS. You can also submit tips at www.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.

Tom "Daddy Rocker" Moran during last year's 10th anniversary 9/11 Memorial at Bill Brown Park. Photo by Erica Sherman

Canarsie-born recording artist, Tom “Daddy Rocker” Moran, along with his group the Brooklyn South Band, are joining forces with The Meyer Rossabi Band and Off The Record to present a special musical fundraiser, May 5, to benefit Autism Speaks. The charity performance will be held at the Tamaqua Marina, 84 Ebony Court, in Gerritsen Beach.

“How often does my world center on my problems and I forget to help others in need,” asked Moran, a recovering alcoholic, whose unique music blends facets of country and rock ’n roll. “I’m in a great position as a performer with an inspirational message to give back to those in need. Our focus today is to be of service to others and to put on an amazing show. I want to thank the other bands for participating in this special event.”

The Meyer Rossabi Band performs from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., followed by Off The Record from 7:45 to 8:45 p.m. and Daddy Rocker & The Brooklyn South Band from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Autism Speaks is the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. To learn more about Autism Speaks, go to the organization’s website at

Admission to the concert is a $20 donation; $10 for children under 12 years of age. Tickets can be purchased at To learn more, call the Tamaqua Marina at (718) 646-9212 or visit their website at

Tennis (with civility!) is one of the many programs the Shorefront Y offers. Source: Facebook

The Shorefront YM-YWHA is inviting all parents and legal guardians to attend an open house, February 26 from 12:00 to 2:30 p.m., to learn more about their ongoing services for children, teens, adults with developmental and mental disabilities and their families.

If you are looking for an afterschool program, a program that serves kids with developmental disabilities, a parents support group, or just a place for activities catered toward teens and adults, such as art, swimming, dance, and music, this open house is definitely worth checking out. There will be music, movement, arts & crafts, and light refreshments.

The program will be held at the Shorefront YM-YWHA, 3300 Coney Island Avenue. For more, call Lilach at (718) 646-1444 extension 406, email, go to or check them out on Facebook.

If you’re a parent of an autistic child and looking for potential play dates, then we have found the group for you.

From their Facebook page, the group “Autism in Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn” hopes to gain more members. Their goal is to set up playgroups for children with autism who live in the area or near it.

By joining the group on Facebook, you’ll get updates on locations were the group will plan to meet.

For more information or if you’re interested and not a Facebook user, contact Arlene at

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