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Uniland building new home for Autism Services in Amherst

Autism Services Inc. has been offering educational services to its client base for years, but now its students are about to get their first real school building.

Uniland Development Co. is customizing 50,000 square feet of space in a suburban Amherst office complex to house both the new school and the agency's administrative offices.

The school and administrative offices will be in separate but adjacent buildings, located in Uniland's Aubudon Business Centre on Hazelwood Drive, between Niagara Falls Boulevard and Sweet Home Road. The schoolwill be located at 30 Hazelwood, while the headquarters offices will be at 40 Hazelwood, next door.

Construction is already underway and is slated to finish in February, so the campus can open in the spring.

When it does, the new facility will provide students with their first gymnasium, a larger storage room for art and sensory-sensitive lighting to help autistic students with learning.

“I’ve been wanting our students, staff and teachers to have a school that supports our philosophy and values and is sensitive to the needs and interests of students with autism, and after a thorough search, this site was the best fit for us,” said Autism Services CEO Veronica Federiconi. “We are very excited about it. We will be giving our students an environment that’s safe, comfortable, engaging and sensitive to some of their challenges.”

Autism Services provides educational and support services for both children and adults with autism-spectrum disorders. It currently has its main office and education center on Bryant and Stratton Way near Eastern Hills Mall in Clarence, and also operates an education program on Elmwood Avenue in downtown Buffalo, as well as day programs in both Buffalo and Williamsville, 13 residential homes for clients and a resource center in Hamburg.

The new location, however, is convenient for the school districts served by the agency, and also offers plenty of outdoor space for students, Federiconi said. Austism Services staff have been working with Uniland architects, designers, project managers and contractors to plan the new facilities.

“I’ve worked with this population for 46 years and my experience helps to guide me in deciding what the environment needs to look like and feel like in order to be successful," Federiconi said. "We want them to be comfortable and happy coming to school.”

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