Rhinebeck – an Autism Supportive Community

image of Autism Supportive Community Member logoAnderson Center for Autism and the Village of Rhinebeck have created the first-of-its-kind Autism Supportive Community in the Hudson Valley. This means businesses and organizations have access to training and tools that allow them to be more accommodating for those with autism – and many have pledged to do “just one thing” to make their operations more accommodating to people with special needs.

Since 2015, Anderson Center for Autism’s Consulting team has designated nearly 100 businesses that completed Anderson’s training program as Autism Supportive Environments, through a grant from Dutchess County’s ThinkDIFFERENTLY initiative. (Dutchess County also recently received designation as an Autism Supportive County!) From restaurants to shops to healthcare facilities, entire teams of people now understand how to better connect and communicate with individuals who have autism thanks to Anderson.

In 2018, Anderson’s Consulting team reached out to the Village of Rhinebeck to make it a place where people with autism and their families feel included and accommodated. With a grant from the Thomas Thompson Trust, and the support and initiative of Mayor Gary Basset, a volunteer committee was developed and the efforts resulted in dozens of businesses and organizations pledging to make Rhinebeck “autism supportive.”

Pledge Examples

  • Rhinebeck Central School District replaced fluorescent bulbs with softer, quieter LED lighting.
  • Village Pizza and A.L. Stickle will offer reduced wait times for families of those with Autism.
  • The Village of Rhinebeck police cars are now equipped with Sensory Kits.
  • Ruge’s Automotive offered a Sensory Safe Space during Porchfest (one of Rhinebeck’s largest community events).
  • Northern Dutchess Hospital has designated rooms in the emergency room that are better suited for patients with autism, which have softer paint colors and easy-in, easy-out access.
  • The Rhinebeck Freemasons hosted an event, raising $2,500 to support the Village project.

Autism Supportive Community Committee

  • Gary Bassett, Mayor, Village of Rhinebeck
  • Marybeth Cale, Cale Communications
  • Kelly Dooley, Anderson Center for Autism
  • Lisa Hagerty, Nuvance Health
  • Kris Hrycun, SunCommon
  • Kathleen Kollar, Parent
  • Josh Kroner, Terrapin Restaurant & Chamber Board Member
  • Michael Madigan, Rhinebeck Eye Care
  • Dawn Morrison, Northern Dutchess Hospital Foundation
  • Joseph Phelan, Rhinebeck Central School District Superintendent
  • Art Pritchard, Rhinebeck Freemasons

Advisors to the Committee

  • Kathleen Marshall, Anderson Center for Autism
  • Lisa Susczynski, Anderson Center for Autism