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Remembering Douglas: The Boy Who ‘Made an Impression Without Saying a Word’

Douglas Sciortino was a happy child who did not judge others and loved people easily. It is with great sadness the Rush-Henrietta Central School District shares that Dougie, a student at Vollmer Elementary School, died recently after a long illness. He was 10.

“Douglas didn’t need words to tell people that he loved them,” says Sarah McLaughlin, of her non-verbal son who had autism. “Even with the struggles he had, without having the ability to speak - and then having to deal with cancer - he really appreciated everybody.

“So many people loved Douglas and he loved everybody, too,” McLaughlin says. “He marched to the beat of his own drum. It was like Douglas was in his own little world and having his own little party. To be near him, was to love him. He would wander around and dance and sing, what they call vocal ticking. It sounded like singing, like a bird, all day long. He was just so happy.”

Dougie also loved to create artwork and paint, and was a Star Wars fan. He was a fighter, too. After being diagnosed with cancer, Dougie endured many chemotherapy treatments and stints on a ventilator. His family will never forget how he bravely beat back challenge after challenge.

Rush-Henrietta will remember him fondly, too. “Doug was a well-liked student by all of the staff that worked with him,” says his teacher, Shannon Harder. “His favorite parts of our day were cooking, working on independent skills with Mrs. Wooten, read-aloud time, and art. He especially enjoyed using markers to create beautiful art pieces.

“His big eyes were very soulful and the first thing everyone noticed,” Harder says. “Doug was a very sweet child. He was a student who made an impression without saying a word. He will be missed and remembered by all who knew him.”

Dougie would have been starting fifth grade this year. His brother, Liam, will be a third-grader at Fyle Elementary School in September. On behalf of the entire school community, we extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family of Douglas Sciortino. We are thankful to have known him.