Local Artist Pays Tribute to Autism Awareness Month and The Developmental Disabilities Institute

Written by Julie Grilli  |  28. April 2011

The Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI), a leading service provider for children and adults with autism on Long Island, received a donation in honor of Autism Awareness Month from local artist Erich Preis. Erich who was recently diagnosed on the spectrum, presented DDI's Little Plains School with a painting to remind students, staff and visitors that there is no barriers when it comes to an individual with a disability. "My abilities outshine my disability," commented Erich Preis. "I hope that every individual who walks by my painting will realize that having a disability does not mean there is a limit to their success." Despite growing up with learning disabilities, on the autism spectrum, Erich has successfully graduated from two colleges, Fashion Institute of Technology and C.W. Post. He is a NY State Certified Art Teacher (K-12), and was awarded a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he received a certificate and won an award for his outstanding drawing skills. Erich enjoys motivational speaking, where he describes how he overcame his adversities to become successful. He offers seminars to schools, corporations and the interfaith community, where he teaches adults and parents of children with varying disabilities, techniques to help children reach their highest potential in art and in life. He, along with others, has begun teaching art classes to children on the Autism Spectrum at the newly formed Spirit of Huntington Art Center. "Erich is an example of perseverance through a disability," stated Dan Rowland, Director of Development for DDI. "He is a true inspiration to the autism community and I could not think of a more fitting way to commemorate Autism Awareness Month." Autism is the most common condition in a group of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and is typically diagnosed before the age of three. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the alarming rate of autism is 1 in every 110 births and a child is diagnosed on the spectrum. ASDs occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups and are four times more likely to occur in boys than in girls. When autism is detected earlier and appropriate intervention is taken, children with ASD can become more functional and learn to adapt to the world around them. No matter the age of the diagnosis, children and adults with ASD are constant learners and significant improvements can be made at any age. DDI is a not-for-profit agency headquartered in Smithtown, NY, with more than 30 locations throughout Suffolk and Nassau Counties. Serving nearly 1,000 children and adults with a diagnosis of an autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), DDI is the largest provider of services for individuals with Autism on Long Island. It provides educational, vocational, and residential programs, as well as medical and dental services for over 5,000 children and adults with autism or other developmental disabilities. DDI also operates family-centered preschool programs for both children with disabilities as well as typically developing students. DDI was founded in 1961 by a group of parents to address the special educational and therapeutic needs of their children with autism or other developmental disabilities. DDI is a member agency of the United Way of Long Island. For more information about DDI, visit www.ddiinfo.org.

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