Friday, January 30, 2015

Interested in Having Your Voice Heard?

Unicorn Children's Foundation with Community Partners will be conducting a Community Needs Assessment in Palm Beach County on Special Needs and Disability. If you fall into one of the groups below and are interested in having your voice heard, please send your contact information to Sharon Alexander:

- Service Providers or Agencies working with special needs
- Parent of a child/adult with special needs
- Individual who has been diagnosed with a disability

Please feel free to join us at our next Community Conversation on February 12th. Be sure to RSVP early!!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Our Vision

Unicorn Children's Foundation envisions a world where all people, regardless of their neurological differences, can be fully engaged members of society who are given the opportunity to…

- obtain and sustain employment,
- pursue continued academic endeavors,
- enjoy social/recreational activities, and
- live independently in communities of their own choosing.

How can YOU help? Visit

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sponsor Emerald Ball

We invite you to join us in our efforts to create positive change. This year’s Emerald Ball will be held on Saturday, February 28, 2015 at the exclusive Boca West Country Club, in Boca Raton. We are anticipating over 250 guests representing a cross-section of South Florida’s community leaders, business professionals and philanthropists.

Our generous donors help to support a multitude of innovative programs, such as:
• Funding the 211 HelpLine Special Needs Hotline
• Supporting Unicorn Children’s Foundation Mobile Developmental Clinics
• Sponsoring educational conferences to educate parents and professionals

We hope that you will support Unicorn Children’s Foundation by taking one of our sponsorship opportunities. We are counting on the generosity of individuals like you to help us change the lives of so many impacted by these disorders and change society as a whole. Your contribution will be listed in our marketing materials, as well as on signage the evening of the event.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Help Us Honor Jay DiPietro

Unicorn Children's Foundation will be honoring Jay DiPietro, General Manager of Boca West Country Club at the Emerald Ball celebrating our 20th Anniversary for his incredible generosity and support of many charities. 

Help congratulate him in our Program Book. For more information, visit

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Emerald Ball Tickets Now On Sale!

An extravagant evening awaits you at the Emerald Ball celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Unicorn Children’s Foundation. We'll be honoring Jay DiPietro, General Manager of Boca West Country Club for his incredible generosity and support of many charities. 

Event Chairs: 
Mary Ann & Gregory Fried

Host Committee:
Lori & Rafael Cabrera
Ronda & David Gluck
Cathy & Abdol Moabery
Marie & Frank Occhigrossi

Special Thanks to our Sponsors

Imagination Sponsors:
Silvana & Barry Halperin
Genevieve & J.D. Murphy

Knowledge Sponsors:
Sunshine Health
Wells Fargo Advisors - The Meran Group

Jewelry Sponsor:
Gregory's Fine Jewelry

Media Sponsors:
Eye On South Florida
Simply The Best Magazine

Honoring Jay DiPietro

Mr. DiPietro has been at the Boca West Country Club as the President / COO / General Manager for 27 years during which time his commitments to several charitable efforts have grown. But Jay will tell you that his true love has been starting and chairing the Club Managers Seminole Region Charity Golf Tournament. The annual gala and golf tournament raises an average of $450,000 every year and has provided millions of dollars to several local charities. $100,000 has been given to Unicorn Children’s Foundation. In addition, Gary Collins, GM of Frenchman’s Creek helped to raise $10,000 for Unicorn Children’s Foundation through the Club Managers Association of America’s, (CMAA): Marathon Golf Event. The $10,000 was earmarked for a specialized “white board” and computers for use in the classroom to enhance Unicorn Village Academy students’ learning experience.

Jay has coordinated relief and aid for the victims of Hurricane Andrew and the earthquakes in Haiti. He has served on the Board of Tri-County Humane Society, National Jewish Hospital, Lynn University and several others. He also chairs the Board of the Club Managers Club Foundation.

Jay is happily married to his beautiful wife, Sharon, and together they have nine children, 24 grandchildren, 1 great grandchild and two beautiful 4-legged babies!

The Unicorn Children's Foundation, is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Since its inception in 1994, Unicorn Children’s Foundation key objective is to provide hope and answers for the families of children affected by neuro-diverse conditions, such as: Autism Spectrum, ADHD, Bipolar, Dyslexia, and other learning adversities. Today, nearly 1 in 6 individuals are currently diagnosed with a neuro-diverse disorder. To date, we have awarded over $3,100,000 to increase awareness of these disorders, establish effective treatment guidelines, and disseminate this information to professionals and parents across the globe.

For more information, visit

Friday, January 16, 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Community Conversation SOLD OUT

We are SOLD OUT for our Community Conversation this Thursday. Thank you to everyone who has RSVPed. We can't wait to see you! 

If you would still like to participate, please email your thoughts and ideas to and we will share them with our full house.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Few More Seats Available

There are still a FEW seats open for our Community Conversation this Thursday. The ABSOLUTE deadline is Wednesday at noon.

You may RSVP or email your ideas, if unable to attend but would still like to participate, to

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Is the U.S. Prepared for a Growing Population of Adults With Autism?

Autism is on the rise: More than 1.5 million people have the condition in the United States alone. But because the majority of these people are younger than 22, the country is on the verge of an “autism tsunami” that could leave thousands without the support they need as they become adults, according to Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization. 
“The current system we have right now is woefully inadequate,” says Angela Lello, director of housing and community living at Autism Speaks. "There are lots of long waiting lists. In some states, it can take as long as 10 years to gain access to [these support] services."  
Defined as a developmental disorder that can impair social, communication and behavioral skills, autism is a spectrum disorder that can range in severity from person to person. Some individuals with autism are considered high-functioning and can live independently requiring  minimal, if any, help. Others, however, may need partial or full supervision and assistance to navigate even the most basic tasks of everyday life. "A person who is nonverbal or who has significant intellectual disability will require substantial support in adulthood, and fully independent living will not be possible," says Thomas Challman, medical director and neurodevelopmental pediatrician with the Geisinger Health System Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute in Pennsylvania. 
Every state offers Medicaid-funded programs for people with autism, which can be accessed through each state's Developmental Disability Agency. These services can include home health aides to help with daily functions such as dressing and bathing, as well as job placement and housing assistance, Lello says. Yet, since more than 50,000 individuals with autism transition into adulthood every year, the support services are already being outpaced by their demand, she adds.
To help fill this gap, President Barack Obama recently signed into law the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act of 2014. Also known as the Autism CARES Act, it will give $1.3 billion over five years to fund autism research and detect gaps in support for children and adults with autism who are aging out of childhood programs and transitioning into those designed for adults.
“We need to do a better job of preparing children with [autism spectrum disorder] for adulthood and provide the help and services they need to reach their full potential,” said the bill's co-sponsor Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., on the House floor in June. “The Autism CARES Act tasks multiple federal agencies to study and report back to Congress on the special needs of autistic young adults and transitioning youth. In light of the severity of the aging-out crisis, we must do more – and fast – and ensure we are providing a comprehensive and thorough review of available services, and those we need to create.”
But as parents wait for more services to become available, there are options available now to help children with autism thrive, says Challman, starting with early intervention therapy. “ Parents of children with [autism] can improve the likelihood of independent living by accessing, early and consistently, the types of therapies that help improve their child’s communication and social skills,” he says – areas that have significant impact on a child's ability to succeed in work and social settings.
Early intervention programs are available in every state for any child under age 3 who demonstrates a developmental delay, regardless of whether parents have health insurance,​ thanks to a federal mandate, which requires states to cover the costs of these programs if parents cannot afford them. ​What programs states are required to cover can vary,​ but no matter the technique, early intervention therapies all seek to help combat symptoms while the brain is still taking shape. 
"The brain is not fully connected at birth," says Susan Hyman, an autism expert in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. "As the brain continues to mature, it makes new neural connections and gets rid of unused ones over the first several years of life." 
Red flags for autism include a lack of joyful expressions by 6 months of age, no babbling by 12 months and no words by 16 months. While autism cannot be cured, early intervention therapy is the best tool available to help treat children with the condition, offering an opportunity to help overcome​ brain abnormalities, Hyman says." When early red flags for autism are identified, what therapy can do is help children come up with workarounds and provide them with experiences that will help them move forward developmentally," she explains. Workarounds can include helping children learn sign language or to point at pictures to convey what they want.
As children with autism get older, therapy should continue​, Challman says, to deal with any issues that may arise or hinder their ability to function in everyday life. Some people may continue to need speech therapy or help with social skills, while others may require psychological counseling​ ​to combat the anxiety and depression that often accompany autism.
“Mental health services can and should be accessed to help manage common issues such as anxiety and depression,” Challman says. Because social skills are "extremely important" in the workplace, it's imperative to continue cultivating them, too, he adds.
Andrew Duff, 24, of New York City, says he benefited from both approaches. Diagnosed with autism just before his third birthday, Duff's parents promptly enrolled him in an early intervention program consisting of therapy designed to help him learn to walk, talk and interact with others. The early therapy worked, and by fifth grade, Duff no longer needed assistance in school nor was he required to be in a special education class.​
Duff backslid a bit when he went off to college, but working with a therapist helped him get back on track. "I started to regress because I was living on my own," he says. "Being in a new place, everything was different and my social skills took a hit. It became hard for me to maintain eye contact. It took me a year to get back to where I was."
Today, Duff works as a production assistant for Autism Speaks and also travels the country as a performance artist.​ Considered a high-functioning adult with autism, Duff says people are often surprised to learn he has the condition. While not all children with autism will experience an outcome like Duff's, research indicates that early intervention therapy is beneficial to even those on the severe end of the spectrum, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends that all babies be screened for autism at 18 and 24 months of age.​
As the "autism tsunami" looms – 1 in every 68 kids continue to be diagnosed with the condition – Duff has this advice for parents of children with autism: "Take them for therapy," he says. "Nurture what you can, and set them up for the best life possible, just like you’d do for any child.”