Music to Our Ears


When Zachary Slade was barely a toddler, his mother, Maria, knew there was something different about him. In her gut she knew it was autism, but it was Dr. Susan Hyman, Golisano Children’s Hospital’s chief of Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, who confirmed it and helped Maria get Zach the specific treatment and services he needed.

Maria and her husband Mike worked diligently to ensure that Zach got all the therapies and opportunities he could. Although Maria credits an incredible team of people with the strides her son has made since his diagnosis, Dr. Hyman said Maria and Mike are the key to Zach’s successes.

Early on, Maria noticed that Zach had an interest and an ear for music, so as soon as he was old enough – and as soon as she could find the right teacher – Maria got Zach playing the piano. He was just 4 years old.

In the four years since then, Zach has surpassed the efforts of his mother, who decided to take piano so she could help him at home. He has won medals and has traveled to Europe to compete with other young pianists. At the same time, his social skills have blossomed.

On Oct. 20, attendees of the 25th annual Children’s Hospital Gala will get to see that progress for themselves as Zach performs Mozart for the approximately 900 guests at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

  • For more information about this year’s storybook-themed gala, please visit this page.
  • For more information about how you can help Golisano Children’s Hospital’s autism program, please visit this page.


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