VISIONARY DR. WENDY ROSS TO RECEIVE ACF 2014 CARES AWARD
Dr. Wendy Ross is not only a leading development pediatrician, she is also a visionary.
When local families shared their stories of being unable to fly on an airplane because of the intense stress that it caused their children with autism, she found a solution that she took to the airlines: a special program that simulated their travel plans from beginning to end.
As a result of her forward thinking and her dedication to children with autism and their families, the Autism Cares Foundation will honor Dr. Ross with its 2014 CARES Award at the upcoming May 2 Charity Gala & Silent Auction at the Hyatt at the Bellevue in downtown Philadelphia.
In addition to Dr. Ross, other dignitaries who will attend the Gala include: Mayor Michael Nutter, Dr. Joanne White, (of the cable TV show Power Your Life), Dr. Robert Melillo, (of cable TV’s The Dr. Rob Show) and Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick. There will also be more than 200 guests who support ACF.
“We are thrilled that Dr. Ross will be the recipient of the 2014 CARES Award from the Autism Cares Foundation,” said Co-Founder and CEO Linda Kuepper, who started the Foundation nearly six years ago with her husband, Frank. “Dr. Wendy Ross is truly making a difference in the lives of individuals with autism throughout our community, and is working diligently to carry out her mission across the nation and beyond.”
Each year the Autism Cares Foundation presents its CARES Award to a person or an organization that has truly made a difference in the lives of people having autism. The CARES Award is a unique one-of-a-kind award because it was created by a person who has autism. The creator of the 2014 CARES award is Mitchell Bowyer, an 18-year-old up-and-coming artist, who attends a community-based program at Moorestown (N.J.) High School.
Dr. Ross is the director of the Center for Pediatric Development and founder of Autism Inclusion Resources, or AIR. She is board certified in general pediatrics and developmental and behavioral pediatrics.
She said she is honored to receive the CARES Award. “I have heard great things about ACF,” Dr. Ross said. “It is so important to come together with organizations like ACF that really understand the need for helping families live with this diagnosis, and to spend time with people who are on the same page; helping families become successful in the same way.”
Dr. Ross attended the Humanities and Medicine Program at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York before completing a Pediatrics Residency at Yale and a developmental and behavioral pediatrics fellowship at Children’s Hospital Boston.
She remained on faculty as an attending physician at Children’s Hospital Boston and an instructor at Harvard Medical School before moving to Philadelphia in 2006. Dr. Ross started AIR with a focus on creating inclusive experiences that lead to independence for families affected by autism and related disorders.
Her work has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. It has been featured on local television, National Public Radio, and People magazine.
Dr. Ross hopes one day to create a model for inclusion that will be standard. She believes that true inclusion for those affected by autism, relies on clinicians and families building bridges to become partners with community organizations.
These vital community bridges include educating community venues, preparing families, and finally supporting them during practice and main stream experiences at sporting events, museums, the Philadelphia International Airport and other community venues.
“There is this huge need for independence in the community, and I felt like there were no resources available to fit this particular piece of the puzzle,” explained Dr. Ross. “I couldn’t continue diagnosing children with autism, and not be part of that solution.”
Dr. Ross said she started her program in 2006 at local museums, and it took her a long time to get her foot in the door with the airlines. “My message for the community is what each of us can do to make a difference. We can bear the cost as a society of those with autism not being as independent as possible or we can invest early and wisely in a multi-directional program that works with individuals and the community at large.”
She said she knows that change is possible. “I am just someone who sees a need and is asking questions, and trying out strategies for inclusion,” she said. “I wanted to try different methods, measure the outcomes and create a model that can be a best practice for all community settings, delivered with fidelity, so that everyone, everywhere can benefit.”
Dr. Ross has a great deal of hope to offer families with autistic children, teens and young adults. “Your child is not a label; he or she is a person. So do not let any label limit them or you as a parent. Keep moving forward and do not give up – everything is possible.”
Gala tickets are still available. For further information, to make a donation, to sponsor an event, to volunteer, or attend the Gala, please go to the Autism Cares Foundation web-site at www.autismcaresfoundation.org or call 215-559-2273.
Thank you for your continued support,
Autism Cares Foundation