Group homes for autistic residents recovering from pandemic


MID-HUDSON – Despite the unwavering impact of COVID-19, group homes for autistic individuals in the area are slowly integrating their residents back into the community. 

Greystone Programs, Inc. in Warwick has had no cases, and the Anderson Center for Autism in Staatsburg has had one case in their group homes and 12 cases in their children’s program. There have been no fatalities.

“When COVID hit, usually when one of the children gets it, it frequently moves to others, since they interact with each other so often,” said Anderson Chief Operating Officer Tina Covington. “We just shut houses down so that we were able to contain the spread.” She added that in a house where one of the students tested positive, the entire house went under isolation. This was in March, where there were no tests. Anderson has not had a positive case since May. Anderson took protective measures similar to combatting the flu, such as shutting down water fountains. Residents also do regular checkups with their doctors as well. 

Both Anderson and Greystone attribute the low amount of cases to the dedication of the care workers in both places. “They have truly risen to the occasion,” Director of Community Services for Greystone Programs Caren O’Brien-Edwards said. 

“They [care workers] come in every day wearing their PPE, and they are really dedicated to the individuals they support to keep them healthy, safe and happy. There are not enough words to describe how truly incredible they have been.”

Both places were reliant on using FaceTime to connect residents with their families, which proved stressful for everyone involved. However, due to the low number of cases in New York State, residents are now allowed to visit their families. Although they are able to do that, the children still must rely on remote learning to partake in their therapies, which has been challenging for them, officials said.

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