National Autism Registry
History: The National Autism Registry (NARY) was started in 1999. The mission was to provide opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to engage in community-based experiences that were not available to them due to the difficulties of the individual with developmental disabilities. It was founded by Valerie Herskowitz, a mother of a son with autism, and her husband, Garth Dolderer.
Our first project was the NARY CARD PROJECT. We developed free business sized cards that we sent out to over 7,000 families. These cards were used for families to ask establishments for special consideration when there was a long line (attractions, restaurants, etc). We were the first organization that was recognized by Walt Disney World, and families used our cards to obtain special access.
From there, we started pot luck BBQs that we held on the weekends. These events were often the only time that families with special needs individuals could socialize in a relaxed environment. Shortly thereafter, we established the Family Club. NARY was the creator of the sensory movie. We had the theaters agree to provide us with lowered sound and a dim lighting in our own special theater. In this environment, many individuals with special needs and their families were able to attend the shows. We were able to raise the funding to pay for admission and snacks for all the participants. We then expanded our outings to include other attractions where special modifications were made to accommodate our families. Eventually, our program caught the eye of Representative Susan Goldstein, who was able to provide a bill that provided funding for our program, though the funding was short-lived due to cut backs. Later on we provided summer camp scholarships for low income special needs children and also started The Baking Program at Dwyer High School for adolescents with special needs to learn to bake. We are not a subsidiary or connected with any other agency.
Our present project: We are helping to support The Chocolate Spectrum Chocolatier Training Program
Official Mission: To provide community-based experiences for individuals with special needs.
Valerie and her son, Blake