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"The Family Next Door" Great Film Success

The Family Next door is a feature-length documentary about an Upper St. Clair Family with two sons on the autism spectrum. It is a genuine, powerful portrayal of the challenges families face in the daily struggle with autism. Over a thousand people have viewed the movie locally and over $38,000 has been donated to the Autism Society of Pittsburgh by generous supporters of this incredible film. Plans are underway to show "The Family Next Door" in the North Hills in early 2015. For more information, please contact Heidi Hess at

If you'd like, you may read coverage of the premiere by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here.



  • For more information on our "Autism Takes Flight" airport training program, click on this slide.

  • Run for Autism

    WVU's Alpha Phi Omega undertook the 44th Annual Run for Autism on
    Saturday, November 8, 2014.

  • The Autism Society of Pittsburgh is the local chapter of the Autism Society of America.
    Our objective is to improve the lives of those struggling with autism.

  • S.P.E.A.K. Summer Programs begin each July.

  • Cope Fazio Memorial Golf Tournament Winners

  • S.P.E.A.K. Family Day 2012 Performance

  • The proceeds from the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix benefit the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School. Courtesy Matthew Little Photography

  • Myron Cope (1929–2008) — parent, writer, broadcaster, Autism Society of Pittsburgh charter board member, booster, fundraiser since 1967.

  • Serafino "Foge" Fazio — (1938–2009).
    Accomplished football player, coach,
    parent, autism fundraiser, founder (with Myron Cope) —
    longest running charity golf event in Pennsylvania.

Autism Takes Flight” – So Does Fear, with New Film


Announcing the availability of a new training film "Autism Takes Flight," Autism Society of Pittsburgh President Dan Torisky said, “Parents will learn if travelling by air with their autistic family member is feasible – or not. Airports can be hectic and most challenging for people with autism.”

The 12-minute film was produced by the Autism Society of Pittsburgh in cooperation with Delta Airlines, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Allegheny County Airport Authority. It is a compilation of video footage of recent training sessions for autism families held at the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport. It provides enlightening educational tips to make flying easier for those with autism.

The film shows families and those with autism what air travel entails – from ticketing through security to boarding and baggage claim. It is also a realistic onsite training tool, helping airport employees recognize and handle challenges their air travelers with autism face.
The widely recognized fear of flying is even more difficult for those with autism who are especially sensitive to noise, movement, and crowded spaces. Many families do not attempt to fly with their children on the spectrum because of their fears.

The video Autism Takes Flight is available on the Autism Society of Pittsburgh’s website at Also available in closed caption, copies may be requested by calling Autism Society of Pittsburgh at 412-856-7223.

Of Immediate Interest:

A Most Worthy Candidate for Judge

Our good friend Tom Swan is running for District Judge. He has long been involved with autism causes and currently is working with us on what has to be one of the most important projects we have ever undertaken – namely, a statewide training program for probation officers, lawyers and judges at all levels who encounter young people with autism in our juvenile justice system.

Autism, and developmental disabilities across the board, need judges with the depth, sensitivity and knowledgeability, like Tom Swan, to ensure that our young people with autism – whether they be witnesses, victims or perpetrators – are dealt with by practitioners in the system with requisite patience and understanding.

Individuals like Tom Swan on the bench will benefit us all!

A Candidate Worthy of Support

As the father of four Gateway graduates all doing well - including my 57 year old autistic son Edward – I’ve been privileged to know and experience many excellent elected officials in this town. A standout this year, I feel, is Mary Beth Cirucci, a candidate for the Gateway school board.

Ms. Cirucci took the time to visit my office and talk to our staff about her intention to continue to work to improve the quality of education for all students in our school – and not just those at the top or bottom of the academic spectrum.

A mother of two Gateway students herself and current PTO president at Ramsey School, she is, in my opinion, likely to help sustain Gateway’s excellent reputation for serving special needs students, including those with autism. Incisively, she emphasized the importance of continuing to foster inclusion only when it is determined to be appropriate to a student’s individual learning growth and development. It is with confidence that I strongly urge Mary Beth Cirucci’s election to our Gateway school board.

Autism Awareness Month April 2015 – State Activities

Below is the link to the press release from Acting Secretary Theodore Dallas describing many State level Autism Awareness Month activities.  Given the predominance of the autism developmental disability nationwide, this recognition is most welcome and should go a long way in preserving and increasing State budget autism appropriations and supportive infrastructure.

View the PDF.

Virginia Tech Autism Clinic – Sibling Study

Through August 31, 2015, the Virginia Tech Autism Clinic in Blacksburg, VA is recruiting siblings of children with autism to participate in a long-distance research study.

Read more.

Local Students with Autism Paint Penguins Mural

Nickolas Wildman joins other autistic students from Pressley Ridge School for Autism, students from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and artists from M.L.K. Mural to paint a mural of the Pittsburgh Penguins greats on the side of a building located across from the Consol Energy Center at the corner of 5th Avenue and Magee Street, Pittsburgh. October, 2014. Nickolas is the son of Davy & Mary Wildman founders of the Autism Society of Butler County.

See photos.

A Most Responsible Position on Vaccination — Diane Schmitt Nails it!

Dear Editor:

I would like to contribute my opinion to State Senator Daylin Leach’s intention to introduce legislation to strip philosophical vaccine exemption from the PA code, “Under Pennsylvania bill, exemptions granted on vaccines stand to plummet”

Read more.

Autism Society of America — 50 Years and Counting…

In 1965, concerned parents of children who were diagnosed with autism, came together to form what is now called the Autism Society of America. In 1965, parents such as Dr. Bernie Rimland, Dr. Ruth Christ Sullivan, and Dan Torisky, knew that often times the only option for helping their child who was diagnosed with autism was to place their child in an institutional setting.

Read more.

Does Your Family Member with Autism Now — or Perhaps Could — Receive Medicaid-Reimbursed Services?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have released a notice clarifying the rules on Medicaid autism coverage for children and adolescents. This CMS bulletin, released Monday, has information about the services covered by the Medicaid state plan and how to qualify for coverage. It may also affect individuals’ eligibility for Medicaid waivers.

Breaking News

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