Bronx autism specialists win grant to support interventions for children

Dr. Maria Valicenti-Mcdermott
Courtesy of Montefiore

As one in 54 children are diagnosed with autism finding funding and ways to treat them is essential.

Recently Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician, Dr. Maria Valicenti-Mcdermott, and her team at The Rose F. Kennedy Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center at Montefiore, were awarded $150,000 from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to support their work providing advanced therapies to preschool and school-aged children with autism.

The funding will:

  • Support programs/interventions that enhance children’s ability to function in social situations, and improve their social communication.
  • Support short term applied behavior analysis, an intervention provided to parents and children targeting behavioral challenges.
  • Support a parent training and support group that helps parents cope with their child’s disability and provides a supportive environment, offering parent-to-parent support and a safe space to discuss challenges and victories parents face in having a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
  • Enable the creation of a new feeding program that helps children feel more comfortable with different foods, through play.

“We’re lucky we got this grant,” Valicenti-Mcdermott said to the Bronx Times.

The doctor explained that the study and recognition of autism has come a long way over the years. In the past it was much harder to identify people with autism, but today due to research, is easier.

“I think people are talking more about autism,” she commented.

Valicenti-Mcdermott said sometimes it is hard for children with autism to access services they need. Through grants like this the hope is to help them socially and allow them to grow as individuals, she said.

In the autism field for 15 years, Valicenti-Mcdermott finds it rewarding to work with children and also help their families. She noted that because of the large Latino population in the Bronx, many of the families that come to she and her team do not speak English. Fortunately she is an a native of Argentina and can speak Spanish.

She stressed that every child with autism has different needs and symptoms.

“There’s no one size fits all treatment,” Valicenti-Mcdermott said.

More from Around NYC