Hospital worker honored for helping teen with autism

EAST MEADOW, Nassau County (WABC) -- A psychiatric patient care assistant from Long Island is being credited with turning around the life of a teenager with autism.

In October, Michael DeLuca, 17, was admitted to Nassau University Medical Center for self-injurious and aggressive behavior.

He had suffered an emotional breakdown at school, according to his mother, Tracy Hermer.

Once doctors adjusted Michael's medications, patient care assistant Michael Rayson began working with him.

"You be patient, you become his friend so that he's not scared of you. And little by little he works with you. He comes around and realizes you're not an enemy of him," said Rayson. "He started to respect you and he started to respect others."

Rayson said little by little, Michael started to play games, eat better and shower. The two had hundreds of sessions together up until Michael was released three weeks ago.

"Michael was one of the few that Michael really connected to and that he was able to get his trust and make him comfortable," Hermer said.

Rayson was honored Monday as employee of the month at NUMC.

"He's a wonderful guy, compassionate, kind, loving, patient, patient, patient," said Laura Kyrillidis, Director of Nursing for Psychiatric and Behavioral Health Services at NUMC.

Hermer thanked the entire staff at NUMC and said they also helped place Michael in a residential program. He's also back in school.

"I don't know where we would be without their help," she said.

April is Autism Awareness Month.

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