Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Giving children with autism a voice

By Olivia Cahill

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – Picture the obnoxious coworker who seems to overact

every time there is a change in plan or schedule. Imagine your relative that seems to

fixate on what would seem to be insignificant details of a movie. Imagine the “weird kid”

in class that cannot seem to go into the bathroom alone because of the loud automatic

toilets. Now picture your reaction when you learn that your coworker, classmate, or

relative has autism spectrum disorder.

Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the U.S. and

affects 1 in 68 people in the country. According to Autism Speaks, the worlds leading

autism advocacy organization, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by

social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in

repetitive behaviors. But the biggest misconception is that each person with this diagnosis

is the same. Many believe that it is a cookie cutter diagnosis, but it ebbs and flows on a

spectrum from being high functioning vs. low functioning.

In Plattsburgh, there are several options for families and caretakers that aid people

with autism; the first is to get a diagnosis. The only way to truly receive aid is to have the

piece of paper certifying the diagnosis. That is where the North County Regional Center

for Autism Spectrum Disorders can help. One of six centers in New York State, the

government funded program can offer a detailed analysis of each patient through the

Center for Neurobehavioral Health. They also aid in school consultations, creating

behavior intervention plans, and can refer people to private local practitioners such as Dr.

Jeanne Ryan.

Project coordinator Jessica Matthews said, “The diagnosis is nothing to be scared

or ashamed of, anyone with the diagnosis becomes eligible for many services. It opens

the door to so many possibilities.”

Many parents and caretakers struggle with the diagnosis. “When I began my own

journey, I was clueless. You go through the stages of grief; the things you wish your child

could do might not be possible. I was overwhelmed and stressed until I gained more

knowledge about; once I reached that point, I was able to move forward. ” said Genie

Denton, Program Coordinator for the Autism Alliance.

The next step would be to gather information about the disorder. “Some people

think you deal with it when they are younger and they will grow out of it. That is not the

case, at any age the children need services. You can never stop learning. I give kudos to

the parents that keep educating themselves, that don’t shy away from the diagnosis and

keep their minds open to the possibilities for their children.” Matthews said.

NYS is consistently ranked in the top 10 areas for serving people with disabilities.

The Autism Alliance of Northeastern New York has a massive amount of knowledge on

the subject. They provide a book with a database of providers that is passed out to

schools, parents, or anyone that wants one to seek knowledge about autism. The book

aids in improving and enhancing the lives of people with autism, which goes in

accordance to their values. It began as a grassroots movement created by parents with

autistic children to raise funds in the community. Everything raised in donations goes

specifically to educational opportunities in Clinton, Essex and Franklin county


After gaining the knowledge about autism, enrolling a child or caretaker in the

local programs provided would be a helpful way to aid in managing the sometimes-

difficult behaviors of autism. The North County Regional Center for Autism Spectrum

Disorders coordinates tri-county events such as an eight-week parent skills workshop.

The Autism Alliance provides several grants to the community where any

organization such as a schools or day care can apply, as long as their program directly

impacts people with autism. In addition to the grants, the alliance helps fund programs

such as conferences for anyone who’s life has been impacted by autism, community

concerts, and even sensory films once a month at Cumberland 12.

Another resource would be the autism intervention program called Nexus. They

work on social skills to help children be as high functioning as possible. In doing so they

teach children how to apply social skills in different settings from going into schools and

having lunch time buddies that work with the children and their “typical” classmates to

peer networking. Everything is individualized because no two children have the same

issues. Through structured and unstructured activities, they help the children manage

their behaviors in a social setting. They also provide family training of the signs and

symptoms of autism and how to manage them.

Program coordinator for Nexus, Andrea Martino said, “The real issue is you have

to walk the line between their typical peers behaviors and allowing the children to have

their own set personalities.” Breana Syslo, volunteer for Nexus and president of Autism

Speaks U at SUNY Plattsburgh, said, “One behavioral management technique with one

student, may not work for another.”

Because the North Country is located near the Adirondacks, there are not a ton of

services in each area. “We have one child that has to drive forty-five minutes each

Saturday because there are no resources located close to his home.” Martino said.

However Plattsburgh seems to be the central hub for behavioral management programs.

There is also a program called MVP Kids. This sports league is for children ages

5 - 12; there is also MVP Teens for children ages thirteen and up. There are 6 sessions

per year and each one has a different sport to play from bowling to soccer to swimming.

The object of the program is to help prepare the children so that they can be integrated

into their own community sports teams. It helps with social skills, coping skills for when

they lose a game, and learning how to play the game.

Martino is also the assistant director for MVP kids. “It is all about contextual

learning - children with autism don’t typically generalize. If you teach them one skill,

they may not be able to apply it to several different situations.” Martino said.

Lastly, the best way to truly come to terms with autism is to get involved in the

community. “I feel strongly for advocating for people that need a voice.” Denton said. On

the SUNY Plattsburgh campus, Autism Speaks U held their annual color run on April 30.

To end autism awareness month, the Autism Alliance is hosting their autism awareness

walk on May 7 at the Clinton County Fairgrounds – giving plenty of opportunities for the

community to get out and volunteer or donate to the cause. “The best advice I can give to

anyone about autism is to keep an open mind; don’t jump to conclusions if you see

someone that is a little different.” Martino said.

Eyes one the prize, or rather their phones

By Kristine Giurcio 

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y.− When we think of social media, we tend to think of millions of tweets being sent out, Instagram photos being posted for everyone in the world to see, and possibly even RSVPing to Facebook events. Social media has become integral to our society for people of all generations. Have we ever thought of social media in a more productive way? Is it possible we have overlooked the many ways social media has changed our businesses, education, and overall lifestyle?
Christina Cottone, a senior at Beekmantown High School, said she likes the opportunities growing up with social media has granted her.
“One of my classes did a semester long project where we had to pick a topic and E-mail businesses about their products. I picked to research pretzels, so I talked to Auntie Anne’s, Utz, and many other pretzel companies,” Cottone said.
The project that Cottone and other students were given was to teach them that this generation was given the outlet that we utilize each day, known as social media and the Internet.
“We sent out around ten e-mails to different companies and the feedback was surprising to me. While writing to them, we basically just complimented their products and acted interested. One company sent me 8 bags of free pretzels. Other companies sent coupons and informational books,” Cottone said. “It was unexpected, I didn’t think they would even read what I wrote.”
Cottone said she thinks of social media in a different light after this assignment. She said she thinks that her teacher proved her point that the access to the internet can be used for more than creating online profiles for other people her age to see.
Colleen Kallop, a junior at SUNY Plattsburgh, also found social media to be beneficial to her education process.
“I have a lot of friends who I can’t even have a conversation with without pulling them away from their phones, which is annoying. I use social media but only during my free time and not as much as the average person my age,” Kallop said. “I like using it though. Facebook has a lot of do it yourself videos that I follow a lot.”
Kallop said that she believes that social media has helped her get assignments done and communicate with other students taking the same classes as her.
“For one of my psychology classes we have a group chat app where we ask each other questions on every assignment. It’s beneficial for me to hear how other people in my class interpret the questions we are asked, because sometimes I find myself unsure of what I’m doing,” Kallop said.
Karin Buck, a SUNY Plattsburgh alumna, said that she thinks she owes everything to social media.
“When I didn’t reach my full degree requirements, I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to get a stable and consistent job. People in our society put this emphasis on having a college degree but in reality, a degree doesn’t secure your future either,” Buck said.
Creating a Linkedin profile helped to set up Buck’s future endeavors. Linkedin is a social networking site specifically for the business community. The objective of the site is to aid  members in establishing professional relationships with employers and colleagues that they trust. The former Plattsburgh student had the profile for only 6 months before an employer contacted her.
“I don’t know if anything would have worked out the way I wanted if I didn’t land a job through Linkedin. I don’t know where I would be working or living right now,” Buck said.
Buck recently moved to Washington, DC, to work for an organization called Student Veterans of America.
“People, especially older generations, look down on people constantly on their phones. I just feel like social media was a positive thing for me and it can be for everyone else too! People are just using it for the wrong things,” Buck said. “We should take advantage of being able to communicate with people across the world and mostly anyone we want for that matter.”
As well as Buck, Suzanne Denig, a Plattsburgh community member, utilizes a bulk of her social media accounts for business purposes. As a mother of 3 teenagers, Denig often works from the comfort of her own home as a tax agent.
“Everything I do in the office, I can also do sitting in my living room on my Ipad. I talk to clients all day long through all different accounts that they prefer using, I have them all,” Denig said. “More along the lines of professional communication such as, Linked-In and Email. You won’t find me on Facebook seizing any businesses.”
Utilizing access to the internet allows Denig to be a part-time stay at home mother for her 3 children.
“You can’t put a price on time with your family but, for me it doesn’t matter because I get paid the same while having my husband and children 8 feet away from me,” Denig said.

It’s easy to see all the negatives that social media has caused in our society. Although, many Plattsburgh community members are not blind to all the endless possibilities that it has created for us.

Sororites, honor societies aim to prevent child abuse

By Nicole Collado

Plattsburgh, N.Y. – With blue and sliver pinwheels in hand, the Plattsburgh

community came together the morning of April 23 rd for the second annual Prevent

Child Abuse Walk.

The inside circumference of the Plattsburgh State field house track was set

up with tables from local organizations like Adirondack Helping Hands, The Child

Care Council of the North Country, Healthy Families New York, and the Joint Council

for Economic Opportunities. Along with pamphlets and resource information for

parents and guardians, there were coloring and play stations for the children who

attended the event.

SUNY Plattsburgh’s Human Development and Family Relations Student

Organization organized this year’s walk in conjunction with the Phi Upsilon

Omicron National Honor Society.

HDFR is geared toward anyone who desires to work in the human services

profession. Kenneth Koleman treasurer for the HDFR student organization at

Plattsburgh State said, “By doing this walk and raising money, were coming together

as a campus and community to help combat this issue.” Koleman continued on,

“Many of us have taken a class called Child Abuse and Neglect. This course opened

my eyes to the hardships children face everyday.”

Koleman is currently a junior and hopes to work in law or health


As a family support worker for Healthy Families New York, Kathryn Girard

goes to the homes of families who needed guidance and support in hopes of

bettering their families wants and needs.

Girard said: “Child abuse is a very real issue. While many homes I’ve visited

just wanted outside support and community outreach, some of them showed

serious signs of child neglect. It’s heartbreaking to see but I’m glad I’ve been able to

help make a difference in those children’s lives.”

After stopping to take a group picture in front of a “help stop child abuse”

sign, Alexis Vetro president of Sigma Delta Tau sorority said, “There was no way that

we were going to miss this walk.” Prevent Child Abuse America is Sigma Delta Tau’s

national philanthropy, and they put on events throughout the school year in support

of PCAA.

“We’re always doing our best to raise awareness and support. PCAA is a

cause that we hold close to our hearts, and they’ve don’t a great job with combining

information and fun at this year’s walk,” Vetro said.

Working the helping hands coloring station, Christina Rodriguez, a

graduating senior in the HDFR program said, “It’s amazing to see all of these people

show up to support a cause that’s so meaningful. Getting support workers in the

homes of children in need is so important and we’re helping do just that.”

The walk raised an estimated $900 and all proceeds will be donated to PCAA.

Why is voter turnout for young voters down?

By Jasely Molina

PLATTSBURGH -- According to the U.S. Census, the voting turnout rate among young adults ages 18-24

within the last decade has decreased to 30.8 percent. The race for presidency in 2016 has

intensified leaving presidential candidacy striving to win the votes of millennials; however, the

low turnout voting rate has left candidates and locals asking themselves: why aren’t enough

young adults voting?

“A lot of young adults just don’t care to keep up with politics. If they do, many feel that

their voices don’t matter,” Plattsburgh Resident Maribel Vitagliani said. Vitagliani is a registered

Democrat. Vitagliani accredits the low turnout rate among young adults to the voting system.

She believes that young adults are discouraged to vote because they cannot directly vote for their

preferred candidate. She also believes that many of these young adults feel that because their

vote is in the hands of a representative, their vote or opinion is not important. “Maybe if we can

electronically vote, it would make things easier for people since they don't have to go out their

way; however, people just have to keep educating and involving themselves in a friendly and

accepting environment,” Vitagliani said.

Operations and Technology Associate Michelle Quimi acknowledges her right to vote;

however, she has decided not to vote. She believes that it would not be fair to exercise her right

to vote because she is not completely informed about politics or the stances held by the

presidential candidates. “I did not want to make a decision because of what I heard other people

say. I did not want to vote because one candidate was a woman or the other was a ‘good fit,’”

Quimi said.

“People have this sense that due to their age, they believe that anything that happens in the

election will not directly affect them. Yet, in this election it’s different. You can tell that the race

is fueling up. Some people may not like the candidates, but four years now, they’ll be impacted

by the laws imposed by the president,” PSU Junior Julian Breyette said. He believes that the low

turnout rate is also a result of confusion. He explained that many young adults are exposed to

political and economic terms; however, they do not have a clear concept of what the terms mean.

According to Breyette, despite the rise of social media and political videos, the lack of education

discourages the young adults to vote. Breyette, however, intends on voting in this year’s general


“There was actually a huge increase [in voting turnout] in that age group,” Democrat

Commissioner of the Clinton County Board of Elections Mary Dyer said. “There were deadlines

and registrations imposed by the state. Although a lot of these people didn’t meet requirements,

they were registered to vote.” Dyer said that the voting booths were very busy during the NY

primaries and were as busy as a general election. Dyer accredits this voter turnout among young

adults to the presidential candidates. She believes that the presidential candidates are eclectic and

“hit all spectrums of this age group.” Dyer anticipates that the general election will have the

same turnout as it did during the NY primary.

Social media has made efforts to encourage young voters to go out and vote. Tumblr, a

free microblogging and social network website, has a spotlight page that allows users to easily

find links that relate to current events, campaign updates, statistics and political experts. This

ensures that young voters have accurate sources to rely on and the accurate information on the

presidential candidates.

Facebook has set reminders for online users. Users are giving the option of placing a

template on their status that states that they are currently watching a political debate. This can

encourage the person’s followers to be on top of trends and actually watch the debate. The

Washington Post has also collaborated with Facebook to show behind-the- scenes footage of the

March 9th Democratic presidential debate.

For the NY primary, Bernie Sanders purchased geofilters from Snapchat, which is an image

and video messaging phone application. Snapchat allows users to take photos and place filters

on them. One of the filters read “You’re Up, NY! Vote for Bernie today!”

Local campaign groups in the North Country have also created pages dedicated to gathering

residents in neighboring counties to help promote their preferred candidate.

It is still unknown whether millennials will decide to vote for the general election in

November; however, it is clear that with the millennials outnumbering the Baby Boomer

population, an increase in turnout from the millennials could potentially sway the vote for the

presidential candidates.

Color run provides smiles for new and old faces

By Emily Kim

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – It’s the paint, the exploding colors, and the smiles on every

face in the field; it’s the dedication and promotion for healthiness and happiness that

makes the Color Run the single largest event series in the world.

It’s 10 a.m. on April 30

Plattsburgh beings. Colors of blue, pink, green, and yellow cover the area for a second

time. The Color Run is a nationwide 5K run that was founded in 2011 to bring

communities together and promote healthiness and happiness. The City of Plattsburgh

decided to host a Color Run of its own in 2015. The money goes towards Autism Speaks

U, a national organization, with a portion going to the women’s soccer team at SUNY


“We wanted a fun way to raise awareness and raise money for Autism Speaks,

which is helping people who have Autism,” Will Hodge, Secretary of Autism Speaks U


Bringing it back for a second year, more timing and planning had to be made in

order for this year’s turn out to be bigger and better for the community and for the cause.

President Breanna Syslo and Soccer Coach Tania Armellino, oversaw all of the

committees that were created for this event. It has been an ongoing project since the day

after the first year’s run ended.

th and the 2

nd Annual Color Run at Memorial field in

“It’s a years worth of work,” Syslo said. “This semester we have had weekly

meetings to coordinate, as well as large group meetings every month.”

The ultimate goal for the upcoming years in Plattsburgh is for the Color Run to

continue annually. It’s an opportunity for the community of Plattsburgh to come together

and spread knowledge of the issues of autism.

“We are raising the money for the National organization, but more than that, we

are raising awareness,” Hodge said.

People of the community joined together as participants, volunteers, and

supporters to help the cause. It also encourages fitness and health, in which participants

can run for five miles while being splattered on with paint, creating an exciting and

colorful victory at the finish line.

Nicole Rescigno, participant, said, “It was overall a great experience, especially

because it was not a timed event with any winners or prizes.”

It’s refreshing for people when they can be a part of something that doesn’t

consist of physical prizes and titles. The Color Run gives the ultimate prize: individual


Some people like Rescigno, come to the Color Run for the health and happiness

aspect, while others, come because of personal relations with autism. Hodge became a

member of Autism Speaks U because of his cousin. He grew up with autism and Hodge

and his mother took care of him for a couple of years. His cousin’s development skills

were slow, and so Hodge’s mother helped him learn how to speak more, develop social

skills, and other things that people with autism are not able to learn as well as people

without it.

“I am a part of this club for him to get the services he needs,” Hodge said.

It’s an event with incredible scenery. People are smiling different colors while

exchanging laughs and comments about how the paint looks on their white t­shirt.

Claire Murphy, a volunteer, got to experience how much joy and fun this event

gives to the community as it was her first time at a Color Run. She was stationed behind

the Plattsburgh High School and was in charge of throwing purple powder over the

runners. She encourages people to volunteer for this event and is eager to come back

another year to throw more colors and watch the runners enjoy the event as much as she


“It gets a lot of the students excited to volunteer for it because it’s so much fun

and it also gets the entire community together because there are not only students that run

in it, but also families,” Murphy said.

Serena Thomaidis, participant, is a big supporter of the Color Run. She’s moved

around a lot in her lifetime and has gone to different Color Runs. This was her first time

going to this event in Plattsburgh, and she had no complaints. Like others, she has a

personal connection with autism, and with this Color Run donating to the cause,

Thomaidis had a deeper appreciation to the event.

“I run for awareness and for love and support,” Thomaidis said.

Half marathon brings runners, support.

By Kristen Suarez

Plattsburgh, N.Y. — On Saturday morning the streets were filled with screaming

fans as hundreds of runners made their way to the U.S Oval during the 7 th annual

Plattsburgh Half Marathon.

“Running 13.1 miles with hundreds of people by your side and amazing friends

and strangers cheering you on brings an indescribable sense of euphoria,” Christina

Niglia, half marathon runner, said.

The runners met at 7:30 a.m at the City Recreation Center. Seven hundred people

lined up to begin the race at the Oval that overlooks the lakeshore. Everyone seemed

calm but eager to start the race they had been training hard for.

“The hardest part of the marathon was keeping up with the twelve weeks of

training and preparation, while balancing work, school, and a social life,” Meghan

Giacalone, half marathon runner, said.

Every two miles volunteers handed out water and Gatorade to sweaty runners

pushing to the finish.

“The SUNY Plattsburgh soccer team volunteered and handed water and Gatorade

to the runners at the 6 mile mark, and we did our best to cheer them on and keep them

running,” Max Delavalle, volunteer, said.

The marathon has raised over $200,000 for Team Fox for Parkinson's Research

charity since the start of the event back in 2010. The race takes runners along the Saranac

River, through SUNY Plattsburgh campus, and along Lake Champlain.

Delavalle was inspired by the amount of young kids running the race with their

parents. He says that it was amazing to watch them accomplish something so difficult at

such a young age.

“It made me want to go out and run a half marathon myself,” Delavalle said.

During the final loop runners head back towards Bridge Street, and crossed over the

bridge over the Saranac River for the second time, towards the U.S Oval where the finish

line awaits them.

At the end of the race people stand waiting for their loved ones to finish strong.

Music is playing loud, and the energy is high as the race is about to come to an end. Not

even the rain can stop the excitement of the race.

“I knew how hard my friends trained for this marathon, and watching them cross

was extremely emotional. We just held each other and cried,” Erin Kelly, supporter, said.

Supporters banged cowbells, and embraced the runners after they finished the

13.1-mile race.

“I was overwhelmed with emotions because of how many of our friends came to

cheer us on,” Emily Bida, half marathon

runner, said.

As soon as runners crossed the finish line they

received a water bottle, medal, t-shirt, and

goodie bag for their accomplishment. Inside

the bag was a pint glass that allowed them to

receive a free drink at Olive Ridly’s, a local

bar/restaurant, along with discounted food.

Emily Bida, Christina Niglia, Meghan Giacalone. All seniors

at SUNY Plattsburgh.

Runners, and supporters gathered inside the City Recreation center waiting on line

for their oranges, pizza, and hero’s. The big race was over, and now it was time to


“Crossing the finish line as the people I loved cheered me on was symbolic and

empowering. This race showed me the power my mind has over my body and I can't wait

to one day run a full marathon just to prove I can,” Niglia said.

Domestic abuse has warning signs

By Eve Barnofsky

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — He controlled everything about her, how to dress, who to hang out

with and how to act. Keryn Ketterer did not want to admit it at the time but her boyfriend was

becoming abusive.

“I know most people know the obvious signs, and I guess I did too. I just didn't want to

believe them.” Ketterer said.

He was older than Ketterer, she was 16 and he was 22 when they first meet. They meet

through a mutual friend and were attracted to each other immediately.

Ketterer didn’t tell her parents because she knew that they would not approve so they

kept its secret. As they got more serious things started to change.

“He pressured me, made me insecure and basically broke me mentally.” Ketterer said.

According to the United States Department of Justice they define domestic violence as

“A pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain

power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual,

emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.

This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize,

coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”

Domestic violence can affect one out of four women with in their life time.

Sage Lewandowski was also in a abusive relationship for over two years. They were

inseparable at the beginning of the relationship but then things started to change.

“The closeness became suffocating for both of us and things such as common courtesy

and respect weren't a part of our relationship anymore.” Lewandowski said.

He controlled her, she was not allowed to see her friends or family because he didn't want

her to.

“No hurtful words were spared on his end, he took every opportunity to physically

overpower me. When it came to money he had no respect for what I had earned, he just took it.

He said he would pay me back, but I never saw any of that money again.” Lewandowski said.

Jane Colquhoun, is a private practice therapist. Colquhoun specializes in helping patients

deal with past traumas of abuse.

Colquhoun uses a special therapy technique called, eye movement desensitization and

reprocessing, or EMDR. It is a fairly new technique, it is a bilateral therapy, which is the

stimulation and coordination of the right and left body through eye movement. It helps patients

deal with past traumas.

“The body has memory and when a traumatic event happens the body still remembers it,

so the approach is revolved around the mind and body to resolving the trauma.” Colquhoun said.

Working with people who have been abused in the past Colquhoun feels that EMDR has

been very helpful in working with people.

“Often with the EMDR work it’s about letting yourself sit with what happened and kind

of facing it. You begin to realize the true messages, that you didn't do anything thing wrong, that

there was something wrong with your abuser and not you.” Colquhoun said.

Amaris Amos, a nurse who has dealt with domestic violence before, has dealt with

victims before they get to the stage of therapy.

“Once I saw a lady who had a dislocated shoulder, but she also had bruises on her arms

and neck. She said she had fell down the stairs but the bruises looked over a week old and the

shoulder injury was from that day.” Amos said.

Amos says as a nurse the tell tale signs of abuse is multiply injuries that are recent and

old. Sometimes there aren't physical injuries. Which Amos says is harder to know if they are

being abused because they have to tell you personally.

“The best thing to is to listen and watch closely to how he or she acts when you ask

certain questions. Sometimes patients are nervous, or if their partner is there, they are jumpy

around them.” Amos said.

If Amos is to find out that they are being abused she is to not leave them alone and to

perform a physical consult.

In the cases of adults she is to ask if they want to press charges but in the case for

children she is to immediately to contact the police to start an investigation.

“If someone asked me to identify the red flags of an abusive relationship, I would tell

them that they are the lack of basic respect by your partner, more than one physical altercation

and the constant draining of your resources and support.” Lewandowski said.