Autistic At Work: Fostering Economic Opportunity

The business world is increasingly recognizing the untapped talent of underemployed and unemployed people with autism and related abilities. Sanchia A Callender Inc is partnering with Neurodiversity Consulting LLC to explore how we can spur economic growth and development by reaching out to this underutilized group of workers here in Onondaga County.

Join us for the one day conference Autistic at Work: Fostering economic opportunity on Saturday, November 16, 2019, at the Nancy Cantor Warehouse in Syracuse, NY.


  • The strengths and needs of neurodivergent employees

  • Navigating job coaching

  • Creating inclusive workspaces

  • Splinter skills

  • Communication differences

  • Workplace sensory integration

  • Executive functioning supports

Resilient CNY: One relationship at a time

Everyone experiences distressing events in their lives. You’ve probably heard about trauma, the emotional response to these events. Our emotional reactions can have long term effects on the way we think, make decisions, and relate to others. Resilience, our natural ability to cope with stress, helps moderate how we respond to adversity. During the 2018-2019 school year, Sanchia A Callender, Inc and our partners worked with Syracuse City School District’s Parent University to equip caregivers of school-aged children and youth, with the resources to recognize trauma driven behavior and build resilience.

The Resilient CNY Trauma-Sensitive Community project started with a recognition that Syracuse’s students and their families needed help in figuring out how to deal with the challenges they regularly experience. I asked Superintendent Jaime Alicea why he found the message about the need to address trauma compelling enough to dedicate district resources to the cause long term. He noted the loss of people, students, that couldn’t be ignored. “Syracuse is a small town,” he said as we chatted in his office in July. “Everything is connected.”

Parent participants in the project found it equally compelling. “We should all do this before we go out in the world to meet people,” reported one parent after the second week of reading Transforming the Difficult Child for book club. We sat around a table in the Sankofa room of Beauchamp Library sharing our thoughts about the week’s reading that focused on recognition, appreciation, attention, trust, and connectedness. We created the book to meet the need for year-round support for learning to build and maintain the kinds of relationships that serve as protective factors against Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and trauma.

During the year-long planning and implementation process of this project, we utilized the support of the Gifford Foundation’s What If Mini-Grant served as a booster for creating change in our community. Our organization is growing thanks to their help. We’ve added two new board members and established relationships with other community partners who share our focus on creating a vibrant community. We are continuing the work of increasing our capacity to build resilience in our community.

Persistence pays off.

In This Together: Autism Mental Health Initiative of CNY Documentary Project Begins Filming

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Filming began in early June on our documentary exploring the experiences of families and individuals in Central New York as they try to find the right mental health support for autistic family members or themselves.

Part of Sanchia A Callender, Inc’s Autism Mental Health Initiative, the documentary is an opportunity for families and individuals to tell their own stories shedding light on the unmet mental health support needs of autistic people and people with other developmental disabilities.

People often struggle alone and in silence without appropriate mental health support. Our documentary aims to help people recognize that they are not alone and to engender a conversation among parents and impacted youth and adults about what can be done to increase the services that meet their needs.

Support for this documentary project comes from the Central New York Community Foundation.

AMI CNY: Autism & Mental Health Initiative in Central New York

In 2018, Samantha and Christina, two moms of children on the autism spectrum with mental health challenges, joined forces to give voice to a need in our community.  When children on the spectrum need a child psychiatrist, the choices are slim in Central New York.  There are not nearly enough of these specialists in outpatient settings, and local parents are resorting to several options when seeking medication management for their children.  Medicating our children is not a decision we take lightly.  We believe that trained professionals in the field of psychiatry should be the ones prescribing and managing those medications.  However, not all child psychiatrists have expertise in understanding treatment for those on the autism spectrum.  Some children use limited verbal communication or are nonverbal.  Some primary care physicians are prescribing in a pinch when our children are seen in emergency room settings and have prescriptions going forward.  Some developmental pediatricians are prescribing because they are familiar with our children’s challenges, but again, they are not psychiatrists.

Access For All: Autism Mental Health Initiative

Access For All: Autism Mental Health Initiative

When our children have a psychiatric emergency, the options are even more limited if an inpatient hospital stay is needed.  There are currently no inpatient hospital programs in our state which adequately serve children with a developmental disability plus a mental health diagnosis.  So, one of two things happens: an emergency room keeps the child until they are transferred to an appropriate hospital (often out of state), or the family goes home to weather the storm and get on a wait list of a proper inpatient program.  Neither of these options is acceptable.

The Autism Mental Health Initiative of Central New York, AMI of CNY, is committed to the improvement of both the outpatient and inpatient settings of child psychiatry services for children in Central New York.  We are listening to our local legislators, and asking them to look to us.  We have a Facebook group where parents of dually diagnosed children and young adults can share information and find comfort in each other’s daily victories and challenges.  If this is an issue close to your heart, please reach out and take part in this local effort with us!

Creativity Expo 2019

Creativity Expo 2019

We’re celebrating autistic people during the month of April with our first Creativity Expo. In partnership with ArtSurge, a program of ARC of Onondaga, we’ve created a fun family and disability friendly event for our community. Families and individuals are invited to take part in hands on activities including dance lessons, painting, and music.

Caregivers are invited to relax and take part in the self-care workshops that will be offered alongside day’s activities. We want everyone to have a great time while highlighting autism acceptance and cultivating the creative talents of autistic people. Registration and volunteer information is available at Creativity Expo.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

9:00AM-10:00AM Check-in

10:00AM-2:00PM Workshops

1342 Lancaster Ave

Syracuse, NY 13210

Resilient CNY Awarded "What If..." Grant

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Sanchia A Callender, Inc is excited to announce that we’ve been awarded a “What It…” mini-grant by the Gifford Foundation! The grant supports the Resilient CNY program and our work with the Syracuse City School District’s Parent University.

Throughout the 2018-2019 school year we are providing monthly workshops engaging the community in recognizing and addressing the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences. This work is vital to equipping our community to be one that is vibrant and thriving.

We are grateful to the Gifford Foundation and our Resilient CNY partners for investing in the health and well being of our community through organization.

See the full schedule of workshops and events linked below.

Why ACEs, Trauma, & Resilience?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) cause trauma that affects health and education. Trauma shows up as behavior in and out of the classroom. By using ACEs to identify sources of trauma we build resilient students and families leading to academic success.

Resilient CNY and Parent University Support Families and Students

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Resilience: The Biology of Stress and The Science of Hope chronicles the birth of a new movement among pediatricians, therapists, educators and communities, who are using cutting-edge brain science to disrupt cycles of violence, addiction and disease.

Join us for the free screening of this film Tuesday, November 13, 2018 5:30pm at Syracuse Stage. A panel of education, health, mental health, social services, law enforcement, and community leaders will discuss the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in their fields and what steps the Syracuse, NY community can take to address these issues.

The film screening is only the beginning. Each month during the school year, December to June, Resilient CNY is offering family engagement workshops and discussions through Syracuse City School District’s Parent University.

Why ACEs, Trauma, and Resilience? Adverse Childhood Experiences cause trauma that affects health and education. This trauma shows up as behavior in and out of the classroom. By using ACEs to identify and address sources of trauma we build resilient students and families leading to academic success.

Community Crafting Debut

Starting this November! We provide a fun relaxed environment for families living with autism and related conditions to explore their creativity together. Arts and crafts are a favorite pass time for many. We created this opportunity so families can share the fun together.

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The Women’s Information Center at 601 Allen St, Syracuse, NY 13210 are our hosts every second Saturday of the month starting November 10, 2018. Join us for the debut of our Community Crafting program from to 2:00pm-4:00pm. Let us know you’re coming so we can be ready!

Volunteers who donate their time and resources make our work possible.