Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus has named Goshen resident Suzanne Schindler as April’s Citizen of the Month for her continued efforts to raise awareness about autism.
Schindler was recognized for her advocacy for those affected by autism spectrum disorder, including her son, Andrew, 22.
“Suzanne has served as a role model and an inspiration to families who have a loved one with an autism diagnosis,” Neuhaus said. “Raising awareness about autism is extremely important and helps more children receive the early intervention and the services that they need. Suzanne and her family have been at the forefront of this movement and it is especially gratifying to recognize her during Autism Appreciation Month.”
Autism spectrum disorder refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and talents. Andrew Schindler was diagnosed with autism, which affects approximately one in 68 children in the U.S., when he was 2 years old. At that time, services for the condition were not readily available and not much was known about autism.
Schindler has long been a proponent for her son and those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, previously serving on the special needs committees of Jewish Family Services of Orange County and Temple Beth El in Monroe. She now serves on the “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” committee. Adopted by Orange County Government under Neuhaus in 2019, the initiative seeks to change the way individuals, businesses, organizations, and communities relate to our neighbors with all abilities.
Schindler also serves on the Board of Directors of Inspire, which provides a wide array of rehabilitative, educational, and disability support services for individuals of all ages and abilities. Andrew Schindler graduated from Orange-Ulster BOCES’ Including Communities program in 2021 and now volunteers through Inspire’s Without Walls program. He lives at home with Suzanne and her husband, Barton.
“I started doing all of this for Andrew and realized he wasn’t the only one who was benefiting,” Schindler said. “As an advocate, I have been able to share my knowledge and experience with other parents. Many do not realize that they have a voice and it is gratifying to empower them. I want to thank County Executive Neuhaus for sharing my family’s story and bringing attention to understand what autism is and to highlight that people with autism can do many things despite their challenges.”
Neuhaus introduced his Citizen of the Month Award, which acknowledges outstanding Orange County residents, in January of 2017. To nominate someone for the Citizen of the Month Award, please email email@example.com or mail a letter to “Citizen of the Month” at 255-275 Main Street Goshen, N.Y. 10924. Be sure to include the nominee’s name, hometown, a list of their accomplishments, why you are nominating them and any other pertinent information. Nominees must be from Orange County.