Showing God's Love to the World: Special-Needs Centers at Catholic Universities

"Showing God's love to the world" by David and Mercedes Rizzo (

Copyright 2018 David and Mercedes Rizzo. All rights reserved.

World Autism Awareness Day is coming up on Monday, April 2. In anticipation, we would like to celebrate a great program called the Kinney Center for Autism Education, part of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Our daughter Danielle has autism so we decided to stop in and we are glad that we did.

We met Ryan Hammond, the Kinney Center’s Executive Director,  who told us about the work they are doing. The Center educates and trains the autism professionals of tomorrow, while supporting and serving the individuals and families affected by autism today. She showed us around and introduced us to several education students learning about autism there. In addition, she showed us the classroom where young adults with autism were learning new skills and participating in fun activities.

The designers of the center had done their research. They had a sensory room with a swing, which Danielle enjoyed, as well as physio balls, picture schedules and other tools that have been found to be beneficial to teaching people with autism. The programs at the Kinney Center focus on social skills, groups for siblings, family night out, and so on.  There’s also Camp Kinney, a summer program and day program.

"Showing God's love to the world" by David and Mercedes Rizzo (

Copyright 2018 David and Mercedes Rizzo. All rights reserved.

The Kinney Center is a very unique program because it not only serves people with autism but also provides education, experience and a skill set for those who are learning to work with individuals with the diagnosis. As parents of a young adult with autism, we find it is both reassuring and refreshing that the Center is focused on the development and training of teachers who are knowledgeable regarding autism. Autism is a very complicated disorder affecting one’s social interaction, language skills and behavior. The diagnosis rates today are alarming. 1 in 68 children will be diagnosed with some form of autism, so the need for places like the Kinney Center is very high.

It is really heartening to see our Catholic institutions of higher learning doing such wonderful work furthering the mission of the church to show God’s love to the world. Saint Ignatius of Loyola is quoted as saying ” Go forth and set the world on fire.” St. Joseph University’s Kinney Center is doing just that!

Copyright 2018 David and Mercedes Rizzo


About Author

David and Mercedes write and speak from a faith perspective as parents of a child with autism. They are available to speak, and have appeared on radio and other media. Visit to learn more. Follow them on Facebook at Autism With The Rizzos. Authors of Praying For Your Special Needs Child, (Word Among Us Press) and Spiritually Able and The Adaptive First Eucharist Preparation Kit (Loyola Press).

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