Woman starts autism fund

CORTLAND – A Cortland woman whose autistic son died four years ago has established a special fund in his memory to help other children and families who deal with autism issues on a daily basis.

Nicole Komissarov of Cortland has started the Ivan Komissarov Memorial for Autism Fund with donations able to be made at any Huntington Bank branch.

The first project will be to create more than 50 Easter baskets for the children who attend the Rich Center for Autism at Youngstown State University. Plans are to deliver them later this month.

“I want every child who goes there to know how very special they are,” she said.

She said she has been fortunate to find baskets for the effort.

Komissarov said other plans are to use any donations for benefits to help families address issues with children who have been identified on the autism spectrum.

She said March 20 will mark the fourth year since her son, Ivan, died at age 4.

Part of her effort includes sharing her story with others.

”Part of sharing my story is to help raise awareness, which is something I have always wanted to do. I want to provide hope and inspiration for other families,” Komissarov said.

For the past three years, Komissarov has made Easter baskets and taken them the local hospitals for children.

Recently, a family member’s 9-year-old son was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum.

”This was hard for me and was what led me to get more involved with autism awareness and being involved with support group,” she said.

Komissarov said she is also planning a balloon launch for Autism Awareness Day on April 2.

Komissarov said her family was vacationing in Mexico in 2009 when her son drowned in a swimming pool.

“I wish I had someone who was an advocate for me and told me how drawn to water autistic children are. I and my family never realized that. Many autistic children do not have the sense of consequences,” she said.

Ivan was diagnosed at age 2 with autism, and pervasive development disorder and sensory integration. She said more and more children are being diagnosed with a form of t he disease.

“I’m not saying that autism is a deadly diseases but in my case it was,” she said,

Komissarov said the fund will be used to help families who may need some extra help or support or assistance.

“This fund helps to keep Ivan alive in some way while helping others,” she said.

She said parents need to have as many resources as they can.

For more information, call 330-980-2080.