Help for families with autism

Local News

Critical resources are already available for families with autism as our community anticipates the opening of the Golisano Autism Center in 2019.

Sarah Milko, the Executive Director of AutismUp – which is a founding partner agency of the Golisano Autism Center – and Melissa Parrish, an Autism Family Navigator, discussed the services which are now available for families with autism and the anticipated impact of the Golisano Autism Center building Wednesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“What it is going to mean is a conglomerate of autism services under one roof, unlike anywhere else in the county,” said Milko of the new construction. “The really phenomenal thing about the Golisano Autism Center is that it’s bringing three partner agencies together, AutismUp, CP Rochester, and Al Sigl, to create an ‘Autism Hub.’ We will have numerous autism providers under one roof, which is really going to make life so much easier for families living with autism.”

Both Milko and Parrish are parents of children with autism. “We are a community of parents, who have children and now young adults with autism,” noted Parrish. “We’re varied. We’re varied ethnically. We’re varied socioeconomically. We live in the city. We live in the suburbs. We live in rural area. We’re everywhere. What we realized was we are a community. What’s exciting about this is it’s a place where we can come, and get the needs met for our families for our children as they move into adulthood. For us as parents, it’s vital!”

The work of the Golisano Autism Center has already begun, serving families in our community. Parrish works as an Autism Family Navigator. “My role is to help families access and navigate this major system that is education, and access to services to help support their children,” she said. “It’s looking at the future for their children, as to where they’re going to live and what types of activities they’re going to be involved in. It’s a major system, and I’m helping them access it, understand it, and be able to move through it without extreme levels of frustration. My role is to help them with that process.”

There is also a help line for families that is staffed 18 hours each day, from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., seven days a week. “Right now that helpline is open any time a family wants to call and get information about autism services,” Milko said. “It’s really a link to autism resources in the community.”

The help line number is 866-AUTISM-4.

During the six hours the help line is not staffed, families can email

To see our full conversation, click the link below.

For more information about the Golisano Autism Center, visit

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