CEO and President Patrick Dollard, Center for Discovery, along with other senior leadership of the Center, welcomed representatives from Autism Speaks last July for an informative visit showcasing the 60 years the Center has been providing care for adults and children with autism and sever physical disabilities.
The Discovery Center is New York State’s largest residential pediatric provider serving children with severe disabilities in addition to those with autism. There are over 1,500 staff members on three campuses. Together the facilities cover 1,500 acres, accommodating its constantly growing population of residential and day patients.
At its inception the Center primarily cared for children with serious physical disabilities, but when it began to also care for those with autism, Discovery eventually expanded, doubling its population. Those in the residential program are fed organically grown food raised at the Center itself. Many residents also eat at tables specifically designed by an adaptive technology unit.
Patrick Dollard explained that when he contemplated an appropriate name for the Center, he wanted to avoid calling the Center after a disease. Instead he wanted the name to reflect more on the philosophy of the Center. Since Dollard’s goal is to try and change the way people think about disabilities, being more open to all and every possibility for care and treatment, discovery seemed an apropos name, indeed.
“I would bring in a shaman from the forest if I thought it would help us,” Dollard said.
Visiting the Discovery Center were Autism Speaks President Liz Feld, Executive Vice President for Strategic Communications Michael Rosen, and members of the science staff of the autism advocacy organization. Autism speaks focuses its energies on funding research into finding the causes, prevention, and treatments for autism as well as supporting the care of people with this little-understood disability.
Autism Speaks is also dedicated to advocacy and increasing awareness of autism in the general public.