About Autism Up

Dr. Nita Singh

My name is Nita Singh, and I have been a resident of PCSD since 2005. The younger of my two sons, Karanbir Singh, is currently a Junior at Mendon High School. He has diagnoses of Autism, ADHD and OCD. His education has been supported by an IEP since preschool. His life has been our education in special education.

When Karanbir’s developmental delays became obvious to us in 2005 we joined the many families in Monroe County who become familiar with the field of Special Education and learn the millions of acronyms that come with it – EI, OT, SLP, PT, IEP, CPSE, CSE, LRE etc. I, as a licensed dentist who did practice until my first child was born, had planned to go back to work part time once my children were in pre-school. Well, life happens. I was not willing to separate myself from Karanbir’s numerous appointments throughout the week with providers visiting our home to help him achieve milestones. I was fortunate that I was able to be directly involved and am still able to be directly involved in the everyday activities of both of my children. Although I am not in a clinical setting full time, I have essentially been a business manager for 3 dental practice locations that my husband (who is an Endodontist – yes that means root canals only) owns. All legal, tax, accounting, and management issues run through myself and our in-office manager. I deal directly with all of our banking, our CPAs and lawyers as required. Being a licensed clinician, I am also able to clarify dental health issues, potential medical complications, as well as pharmaceutical inquiries.

This life change allowed me to learn and educate myself in a way that I had never really planned to, but that has very much enriched my life and benefitted our family. Autism became a part of our life, so I basically decided I needed to learn everything about Autism. Over the years I have engaged in medical and educational courses about how to support individuals with autism and disabilities in general. As a licensed health care provider, I am already a mandated child abuse reporter, but taking the Darkness to Light training course connected “child abuse prevention” to the world of Developmental Disabilities and brought “to light” the gaps that exist in our assessment of risk to this vulnerable group. I have also taken the full Advocacy Course at Starbridge which provides training for families about Special Education Law. As a Lay Advocate with this certificate training, I have attended CPSE and CSE Meetings in other school districts, including Fairport and Henrietta, to help parents work with their districts to meet the needs of their children. I was a CPSE Parent Member in our own district for many years, and I am still a CSE Parent Member and District Liaison for Pittsford Central School District. With the experience of being a part of these meetings, there have been many instances where I have worked with the CSE and with Building Level Staff to help families understand the Special Education Process and how to best support all of our children. I have been a part of the PASS Group (Special Education Support Group) in our district for over 10 years helping to promote education and awareness for families in that capacity. I took the Broker Training Course offered by OPWDD last year to better understand the systems and regulations in place that govern Self-Direction. Recently I took on the volunteer position in Pittsford Central School District’s PTSA of VP of Education Council. This position helps to guide our PASS Special Education Support Group, our Diversity and Inclusion Committee, as well as our Quest Group, which supports our high ability learners. PCSD is actively putting together an Equity Committee and I have accepted a position to be a part of those discussions as well.

Our family’s involvement in an organization known as Autism Up – which we became a part of when it was known as UNYFEAT in 2006 – has played a huge role in educating myself and allowing me to share that knowledge with others, both in educational as well as in community settings. We were fortunate enough to be involved in the brainstorming, construction, ground-breaking and grand opening of the Levine Autism Clinic at UR Medicine, and my son thoroughly enjoyed giving families tours, filming information clips and contributing to their information brochure. Most recently, I have joined the Family Advisory Committee of the Department of Behavioral Pediatrics at Strong Memorial Hospital. Under the leadership of Dr. Susan Hyman, I am contributing the “familial perspective” to the Autism Treatment Network.

Our son has now entered in to his “IEP Transition Years” of high school, I am living this journey with him. I am making it my business to understand what his future options are, both in school, and in the community. Long term living arrangements, job opportunities, recreational opportunities - all of these considerations are on the table. How to prepare him and enable him to maximize his potential in a safe environment, and to really enjoy his life – these are now my areas of focus.

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