Autism Center in Poconos Excites Parents

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HAMILTON TOWNSHIP -- Parents of autistic children in the Poconos said they are very excited that a new facility has opened to help their children.

Shane O'Neill, 11, of Saylorsburg was diagnosed with autism when he was a toddler.

Autism is a disorder that impairs communication and social skills.

For just over a week, Shane has been attending the new Pennsylvania Autism Action Center near Snydersville. His mother has already noticed a difference.

"He likes coming here. On the way here, he's like 'Oh yay, I know where we are!  We're almost there'," said Christeen O'Neill of Saylorsburg.

That's a comment Shane's mother said he would normally not make about going places.

The Pennsylvania Autism Action Center opened its doors in April.

The center provides services, such as occupational therapy and speech therapy, specifically for people diagnosed with autism.

One of the center's specialties is teaching social interaction.

"What we do is work on how you should act when you're with other friends, how to respond when someone says hi to you and how to initiate friendships and initiate play with other peers," said Michelle DeMarsh, the owner of the Pennsylvania Autism Action Center.

"When I bring Shane here now, he's working with other boys with autism. He's not feeling he's being made a spectacle of himself," said O'Neill.

The Pennsylvania Autism Action Center not only provides services for children diagnosed with autism, this center also helps out the parents as well.

The center will soon hold support groups so parents of autistic children can talk with other parents.

"It's going to benefit myself, and they're also going to have a sibling support group so his sister who rolls her eyes at him all the time and gets a little frustrated is also going to have a support group. So it's wrap around for the whole entire family," said O'Neill.

To contact the center, call (570)861-4255 or e-mail