About Us

Our Story

How It Started

Established in 2004, AutismUp (formerly known as UNYFEAT) is the leading not-for-profit autism support organization for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and their families, in the Greater Rochester and surrounding areas.

It all started with four moms in a coffee shop, talking late into the night about interventions they were using to help their kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As with many parents who receive a diagnosis of ASD for their child, they were looking for support. These moms would find out from each other different programs and therapies that were available for their children, locally and nationally. They quickly realized that if they hadn't found each other and begun to share this information, where would they have gone to get it? There was a gigantic gap in available resources, access to support and information and a total lack of communication about the rising autism epidemic locally, and nationally.

These moms also needed to talk. They needed to speak of the struggles they experienced every day raising a child with ASD. They formed a bond over their shared experiences - experiences that could serve to help others as they became local pioneers.

And thus it began. Four moms from the coffee shop rallied other autism moms, and AutismUp held its kick-off meeting in September 2004. AutismUp hoped to help channel information to families, as well as to further expand the opportunities for children with ASD. AutismUp would be the first organization in the area to provide emotional support to parents; opportunities to share with other families; and social opportunities for kids with autism, their parents, siblings, and the entire family. Our flagship Social Skill Education Summer Camp was the first inclusive camp for kids with autism, and made way for other camps, like iCanBike, Communication Boot Camp, and eventually Sunday Fundays, Exploring Sensations, Boys Zone, and Girl Power.

April 2016 marked a major expansion of our offerings and the opening of a Multi-Sensory Learning Environment for individuals with autism, and their entire families! This "Learning Lab" served as a base camp for our operations and significantly enhanced our ability to provide expanded and enhanced programs and services seven days a week. It meant more support, more opportunities, and more fun for families living with autism! The Multi-Sensory Learning Environment, or simply "AU," became the place to HAVE FUN, BE FIT, and MAKE FRIENDS.

In 2017, we partnered with Al Sigl Community of Agencies and CP Rochester and founded the Golisano Autism Center. In September 2019, we expanded our ability to support families when we joined a collaborative community of 14 autism specialty providers relocating to the Golisano Autism Center. The 30,000 square foot center is the new home to AutismUp and our 3,700+ member families.

2020 was a challenging year for all of us. With very generous support from our community, AutismUp was able to "pivot to virtual programming," extending our outreach and welcoming new members and participants from near and far.

How It's Going

The pandemic period also gave us time to turn our attention to what lies ahead for children with autism as they grow into adulthood. Our Full Life Academy became the next major milestone for AutismUp, fully launched in the fall of 2021. 2023 marked the end off a three year pilot, and expansion plans offer tremendous opportunities to uncover possibilities and unlock potential for our participants. Today, AutismUp is the leading, local autism support organization focused on expanding and enhancing opportunities to improve quality of life for those living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

2024 marks our 20th year of operation, and we are proud to be recognized as the gold standard for autism support and services. We assure our members and the community that with their help, the very best is yet to come.

Our mission is to offer unwavering support to individuals with autism throughout their entire life journey. This includes providing vital assistance to families and children with autism as they grow into adults, ensuring that they have the support they need at every stage.

At AutismUp, we are dedicated to reaching new heights in all aspects of our work, from raising awareness about autism to advocating for positive change, delivering top-notch educational resources, offering direct programming, and providing crucial support services. Each day, we impact the lives of thousands of families in the Greater Rochester and surrounding areas, making a tangible difference in the lives of over 3,700 individuals, who are part of the 1 in 36 diagnosed with autism. Our commitment is to provide help today, and inspire hope for a brighter tomorrow.

How We Do It

AutismUp is anchored by three guiding principles:

  1. Support for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, and their families.
  2. Opportunity to develop social, sensory, readiness, fitness and recreation skills through customized education programs.
  3. Success: our goal is to promote personal success at every age and ability.

Autism rates continue to rise. The need for support continues to grow, and so does our membership. Individuals with autism continue to grow, and AutismUp will continue to provide support and grow with children and families, from diagnosis on up through childhood, adolescence and adulthood. And, we'll continue to educate and collaborate to help our community embrace individuals with autism as friends, neighbors and co-workers.

We will expand and enhance programs and support services aligned with the progression of a family and individual with ASD through various life stages. This approach will serve to build skills and abilities, utilizing special interests and open up opportunities progressively as one grows and supports our vision for the future - to be the premier model of community support and inclusion for individuals with autism.

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