Northshore Magazine

Northshore September 2015

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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56 | SEPTEMBER 2015 BY CHARLOTTE ROTH Northeast Arc offers support and hope to families with autistic children. Helping Hand Knowledge is power—the old adage proves especially true for people with autism and families whose loved ones are on the spectrum. Before the 1991 founding of the Autism Support Center, a Northeast Arc program, families were often left in the dark with few resources and little information. Current co-direc- tors Susan Gilroy and Gloria Ricardi Castillo combat that problem by providing support and informational materials. "We do an intake inter- view, ask questions to draw the fam- ily out, and assess the child's level of functioning," explains Gilroy. "Then we make a package of information photographs by Sarah Phillips (top right and bottom left), courtesy of Northeast Arc (top left and bottom right) that we [give] to the family, and refer them to services in their area that may fit their needs, through North- east Arc and other agencies." This information and the referral process are key to the center's com- mitment to empowering families. "Our goal is to provide unbiased in- formation," says Castillo. "We want families to understand the entire range of options that exist for them, not just the options within North- east Arc. Since the inception of the center, we've spoken with close to 9,000 families." The center's sensitivity and sup- port are important for families who seek not just facts but solidarity. Both Castillo and Gilroy offer the benefits of their own experiences as parents of autistic children, as well as years of professional work. "We speak to families who have just received a diagnosis—it's all very new to them," says Castillo. "Susan and I hold their hand a little in the beginning, because this can be very difficult." Although it began as a referral service, the center's scope has broad- Left, co-director Susan Gilroy; top right, co-director Gloria Ricardi Castillo; top left and above, families who have benefitted from Northeast Arc's many offerings LIVE

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