HELPING HANDS — Students at the Kelberman Center join a mentor for an art class. The center has recently expanded the programs it offers. These include a free counseling session (Photo submitted)

Kelberman Center in Utica expands autism services

Published Dec 7, 2017 at 4:00pm

The Kelberman Center has announced an expansion of services to individuals with autism at the Kelberman Center Clinic, 2608 Genesee St, Utica. These include community based services, education, family support, clinical services, social and recreation programs, and residential living.

Referrals and inquiries may be made at 315-797-6241 or The Clinic is currently accepting Excellus, Fidelis, Medicaid and Medicare, and is open to all through private pay and out-of-network options. Visit for more information.

“A key element of a proactive life plan is supporting the whole person,” Managing Director of Clinic and Education Dr. Jean Jacobson said. “The care here is very individualized, because everybody with autism is different.”

Autism defined

Jacobson said autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that impacts an individual in the areas of communication, social skills, sensory processing and emotional growth. A 2017 report by Autism Speaks said the disorder is further complicated by several additional issues which often appear along with autism. These include:

  • Anxiety, which occurs in 11 to 42 percent of those diagnosed with autism;
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which occurs in 30 to 61 percent of cases, and
  • Depression, which occurs in seven percent of children and 26 percent of adults with autism.

Autism is generally diagnosed before a child turns three years of age, and 80 percent of those diagnosed are boys. Warning signs include delayed development in language and social skills.

The disorder is now defined as part of a spectrum. This spectrum has varying symptoms and behaviors related to autism.

Several individuals in the medical community, and parents of individuals with autism, believe the expanded spectrum is unnecessary, and inaccurate.

“They have expanded what is considered a form of autism,” Jacobson. “

What I have seen is that individuals on the middle of the spectrum, not the ones with severe autism or the ones who are apparently more normal, get the most treatment. We want to be sure everyone’s needs are met,” Jacobson added.

Hope for individuals
with autism

The Kelberman Clinic employs licensed psychologists and clinical social workers who help provide evaluation and diagnoses for autism and related developmental disabilities. These include individualized therapies and counseling for emotion regulation, coping skills, behavior and exposure therapy.

“We want to help these individuals find their place and contribute,” Jacobson said.

“One of our patients sang the national anthem before a hockey game recently. He had perfect pitch. He is working on his social skills but when performing music he is very comfortable,” Jacobson added.

Individuals with autism, Jacobson, are often extremely gifted in certain areas.

“We want to focus on an individual’s strengths and not their weaknesses,” she said.

Help for families

Additionally, family counseling for coping, support and parenting is offered through the Kelberman Clinic.

​“The biggest need among families is the need to address changed expectations,” Jacobson said. “When a friend of mine’s son was diagnosed she and her husband did not go out with friends for five years.”

When parents find time to go out or have family activities the autistic child must be accounted for.

“It’s frustrating when a family wants to go for a bike ride and the person with autism can’t participate. We try and address those type of problems,” Jacobson said.

The center also helps those who are often ignored while addressing these family issues: the brothers and sisters of autistic people.

“I have a brother who has autism, and when I was younger I was a little embarrassed to have friends over,” Jacobson said. “But I have grown through the experience. My brother is a big part of why I got into counseling.”