David Arthur Foundation

Strengthening and building innovative communities to solve autism lifecycle needs and other social problems.

David Arthur Foundation

Strengthening and building innovative communities to solve autism lifecycle needs and other social problems.

DAFLogoThe David Arthur Foundation mission is to strengthen and build innovative communities to solve autism lifecycle needs and other social problems

We help successfully implement community solutions to social problems that require the intricate coordination and collaboration of many complex partner institutions. (Partner institutions might include, for example: government, philanthropic, non-profit and also commercial organizations to enhance sustainability).

Founded in 2013, The David Arthur Foundation is named for David Arthur Epner, who is 17 years old and faces many challenges and obstacles due to autism with a happy, gentle heart. David inspires us with his spirit, determination, and courage.

The David Arthur Foundation’s program highlights include the following areas of focus:

Developing a New Type of Autism Insurance Policy: Enhanced Life Insurance for Couples Planning a Family

Every couple expecting a baby fervently wishes for a healthy child. Whether the child is healthy or not, parents always want the best care for their child. If a child is diagnosed with autism the care needed to help the child reach his or her highest potential is very expensive. The David Arthur Foundation is currently working with insurance, healthcare, and marketing partners to develop a new type of autism insurance policy. We are exploring a life insurance policy with an “autism rider” that helps those who give birth to a child diagnosed with autism extra money for the special care their child will need. The policy could provide supplemental costs not covered by medical insurance including therapy, caregivers, legal/advocacy fees, and any special living and housing accommodation expenses.

Communities for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

According to recent reports released by the CDC based upon research conducted in the U.S., one in 68 children is born with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The risk is even higher for boys; one in 42 boys are on the spectrum. The disorder affects children of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. These statistics are significantly higher than previous CDC reports. (Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010). As these increasing numbers of children with autism mature, the need for high quality residential communities for adults on the spectrum far exceeds supply.

The David Arthur Foundation is teaming up with the Corporation for Independent Living and the Hospital for Special Care to establish a world-class, integrated community for adults with autism in a sizable city in Connecticut. The effort would combine both attractive housing options and an organic community network of services supporting a full life including: healthcare, work, education, sports, religion, entertainment, security, and socialization opportunities. There is a particular focus in establishing this community with the clear goal of replicating it to other cities to meet this pressing nationwide need.

The Foundation plans to help establish 100 world-class, integrated adult autism communities with blueprints for another 1,000 over the next two decades.


New York City’s first special hockey team – the Central Park North Stars

One of the first initiatives of the David Arthur Foundation was the establishment of New York City’s first special hockey team – the Central Park North Stars – a member of the American Special Hockey Association. This year’s team, with 25 players, 26 coaches and a 1 to 1 player coach ratio, exemplifies the values of our mission by including children and adults in a great sporting opportunity that improves quality of life through an integrated community at Central Park’s Lasker Rink hockey center. We are grateful to the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) for their generous sponsorship of the Central Park North Stars, to our wonderful team of volunteer coaches and parents, and to the extraordinary support of Central Park Ice Hockey.

The David Arthur Foundation Exploring The Arts

Art represents a universal tool for understanding and expressing ourselves and the world around us. Especially when understanding and communication cannot be verbalized, it is art that provides us with a strong sense of belonging and identity. For decades now the art-making process has been acknowledged and used both as an effective therapeutic strategy, and as a privileged environment to facilitate communication and self-expression in developmentally disabled and/or neurodiverse individuals.

The arts, particularly visual arts, can enable individuals with autistic spectrum conditions or neurological disabilities to communicate and share their talent and ability, to convey their inner landscape, while affirming their own identity with a sense of engagement and accomplishment.

For these reasons, the David Arthur Foundation intends to acknowledge and present art programs and practices, in New York City and beyond, that advocate the artistic creativity of neurodiverse individuals who, like all artists, use imagination to give voice to their inner universes and selves.
We believe that art making is an act of creation and expression not defined by the neurological process that might have originated it, and even when the aesthetics results distinctive because envisioned by individuals in the autistic spectrum or with other developmental disabilities, it is not at all dissimilar from art produced and shown in mainstream studios and galleries. As autistic artist Westley Cedeno lucidly affirms: «What inspires me to create art is the vibrancy of colors, hues, and the representation of different textures. In addition, I love to create, experiment, and be open with the arts. Anything in art is valid». And this is precisely it.

Franca Di Valerio, DAF Art Curator


August Natterer, The Shepherd of Dreams, ca. 1919.

August Natterer,
The Shepherd of Dreams, ca. 1919.
©Prinzhorn Collection, University of Heidelberg, Germany


October 15, 2016
A free live staged reading of the play, “Talkin’ to this Chick Sippin’ Magic Potion” by playwright James Anthony Tyler. We are grateful to Dennis Zavolock for organizing this wonderful event. Directed by Judith Stevens-Ly with an exceptional cast: Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Ngozi Anyanwu, Cesar J. Rosado, MaameYaa Boafo, and Darius McCall.

May 11, 2016
A dramatic reading of the award-winning play “Lucy,” by playwright Damien Atkins, about an anthropologist learning to be a mother to her 13-year-old autistic daughter for the first time, with a reception following the performance in the garden. Jason Zinoman of The New York Times has written that “the play takes on a serious issue and explores it without sentiment or easy answers. How often can you say that?” We are grateful to the talented group of actors from the William Esper Studio for bringing this work of art to life. Presented in partnership with the Church of St. Edward the Martyr and William Esper Studio actors Kristina Osterling, Juliana Forsberg, Dennis Zavolock, Lea Pfandler, Donald Chang, and Estelle Lee.

The 2015/2016 David Arthur Lecture Series was organized to promote awareness of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue’s award-winning Kulanu Program connecting children on the autism spectrum to the larger Jewish community. Speakers included:

  • Gerald D. Fischbach, M.D., Chief Scientist and Fellow of the Simons Foundation; Former director of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
  • Ruth Fischbach, Ph.D., M.P.E., Professor of Bioethics and Director and Co-Founder of the Center for Bioethics at Columbia University
  • Allison Kleinman, LMSW, Director of the Jack and Shirley Center for Special Needs, JCC Manhattan
  • Sarah Cho, LCSW, BCBA, Director of Operations, Center for Autism and Related Disorders
  • Mike Hickey, National President, American Special Hockey Association
  • Erica Dubno, Special Olympics NYC
  • Kent Schwendy, CEO, Corporation for Independent Living
  • Lynn Ricci, COO, Hospital for Special Care
  • Gary Mayerson, Mayerson & Associates and Board Member of Autism Speaks
  • Robert Epner, David Arthur Foundation and CEO, Chiefofstaff.com