In 1976, a group of parents of Autistic adolescents came together to organize Special Citizens as a nonprofit organization. The organization began as a vehicle to advocate for ongoing adult programs for their children who had aged out of Special Education services with very little options for long-term housing or day programming.
The group of parents began their journey in 1977. Upon approval of a three-year grant from the then OMRDD, Special Citizens opened its first group home in Westchester (Cortlandt Intermediate Care Facility) on December 7, 1981.
We are committed to the development and delivery of a comprehensive, integrated system of services, which has as its primary purpose the promotion and attainment of independence, inclusion, individuality and productivity for adults and children with Autism.
Special Citizens has a workforce of over 200 employees supporting over 300 people with Autism Spectrum Disorders throughout New York City, The Bronx and Westchester County.
Special Citizens provides the following services:
Residential (Individual Residential Alternatives and Intermediate Care Facilities)
Day Habilitation (Site and Community Based Day Options)
Medicaid Service Coordination
Therapeutic Surf Camp for Children with Autism
Born in 1970, John Hartman is a lifelong resident of Manhattan. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 2007. In 2013 he began attending the Pure Vision Arts studio.
John is a multi-faceted artist. He enjoys drawing and painting landscapes, animals and abstract pieces, but his main passion is woodcarving. John was introduced to the craft at the age of eleven, in wood shop at The Rudolph Steiner School. He began by crafting a cherrywood flour scoop. Instantly drawn to the medium, he slowly started teaching himself how to make more complicated objects.
Collecting rare woods from around the world such as ebony, zebra wood, Philippine mahogany and bloodwood, John now spends hours in the studio and at home carving, whittling, sanding and polishing each piece. Inspired by visits to Fire Island, his subjects often reference sea creatures and birds. Starfish, geese, walruses, herons, pelicans and penguins are among his many subjects. On occasion he mounts his carvings on wall plaques, while other pieces stand alone. Intricate miniature renderings of seahorses or clam shells become earrings or necklaces. Household items such as letter openers, paper weights and shoe horns are also part of his collection, all a labor of love.
When he is not making art, John is a talented clarinet player and a passionate golfer. He also has a vast collection of favorite objects including rare marbles and coins.
Surf Camp for Kids with Autism
The Kristen Bednar Memorial Surf Camp for Children with Autism, previously the iMatter Surf Camp, was founded in 2007 by Jessica Guberman. It is a one-day free camp for children with Autism and their families where children surf one-on-one with a qualified instructor and reap the benefits of aquatic therapy. The camp takes place at Cupsogue Beach in Westhampton, NY. Click here to view the 2014 video from our 8th Annual Event!
Supported Employment Update!
Annual CEO Message.....
Since 2012, I have been charged with the care and leadership of this wonderful organization, Special Citizens Futures Unlimited, Inc. I knew from the beginning that SCFU was a unique and extraordinary organization. One that not only specializes in supporting those with Autism Spectrum Disorders, but works tirelessly to ensure that the men, women and children we support live the most inclusive and fulfilling lives that they can.
This past year alone has yielded tremendous outcomes, as a result of our hard work. In the past year, our organization has:
Having the opportunity to work side by side, every day with the people we support, as well as our incredible workforce, is truly a gift. I feel very fortunate that even amid the ever-shifting landscape of our industry, we have a strong and sustainable workforce, utterly capable of navigating the changes yet to come. No matter what program I walk into, I am always met with a sense of warmth, family and people that really care about the organization and the people.
Having worked in the human service field now for over eighteen years, I can honestly say that all of the years preceding my arrival were to prepare me for the joys and challenges I would face when I came to Special Citizens. SCFU has come out of the dark and into the light over the past two years and it is an amazing transformation both to be a part of and to witness.
I look forward to many more years of working with all of you, as SCFU continues to pioneer the manner in which people with Autism self-direct the course of their lives.
Jessica Zufall, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
The TOUCH application is the first ever pilot of a New York statewide housing and employment database that works directly with state government agencies to identify and publicize housing and employment vacancies directly to the person that will be the recipient of services.