NSSA Throws a Summer Party: Pizza & Pints

i Jul 18th No Comments by

What better way to break up the dog days of summer than with a party? NSSA did just that with a new event: Pizza & Pints. Held on a muggy Thursday evening at the Great South Bay Brewery in Bay Shore, families, friends and staff were delighted to be in a spacious air conditioned room, sipping “pints” and sharing pizza and salad prepared by NSSA’s Salad Shoppe.

Guests chatted over beer barrel tables or relaxed on cushy sofas.

P&P-7.11.19-23-blogsized

P&P-7.11.19-8-blogsized

P&P-7.11.19-7-blogsized

They took their chances at winning raffle prizes or spinning the prize wheel. And this was no ordinary prize wheel. In order to win, guests had to perform feats of knowledge, balance or tongue twistery. This made for much entertainment and laughter in the wheel corner. The grand raffle was a much-coveted brew-crew cycle tour in Riverhead for up to 14 guests.

Others played giant chess or Jenga, or practiced their prowess at cornhole or the foosball table.

P&P-7.11.19-46-blogsized

P&P-7.11.19-47-blogsized

P&P-7.11.19-56-blogsized

Thank you to all who attended, donated and volunteered. Thank you to Rob Donahue of Great South Bay Brewery for making the event possible. And we’re especially grateful for the initiative, creativity and hard work of Jen O’Malley and Tori Ardito for creating this new fun summer event!

Lifelong Learning Classes at NSSA’s Adult Services Program

i Jul 18th No Comments by

In the summer of 2018, NSSA started a Lifelong Learning Program as part of its Adult Program. The program is comprised of three main categories: Health & Wellness, Lifelong Learning and Paid or Volunteer Work.
The Lifelong Learning topics have ranged from Basic Communication and Safety Skills to Money Management, Leisure Skills, Agriculture, Independent Living, Employment/Workplace Behavior and more.

These lessons have been taught by Adult Program staff, but this spring they broadened the range of topics and introduced some new classes taught by other NSSA staff members. Among these are:

Fire Safety and Shopping and Paying for Items by Stacey Agosta

lifelong learning fire safety collageInteracting Safely with Infants by Nicole Weidenbaum

lifelong learning infant safety 1 collage

lifelong learning infant safety 2 collageDeveloping Leisure Skills by Jayne Eaton-Bove

ID Cards & Personal Safety by Jason Watson

ID collagePhotography by Bettye Rainwater (these photos were all taken by adult program participants)

lifelong learning photography collage 1lifelong learning photography collage 2Making Apple Donuts by Jeanette Vera

apple donuts 1 blogsized

Lavender Vanilla Salt Scrub by Donna Lebovitch

lifelong learning scrub collageMany individuals with autism have extremely limited areas of interest and have to be taught how to pursue leisure interests on their own or be exposed to new activities that they may enjoy. The Adult Program participants enjoyed these hands-on lessons, from holding practice babies and playing card games to taking pictures or snacking on treats they’d made themselves!

Maybe Autism is My Superpower

i Jul 10th No Comments by

Maybe Autism is My Super Power Ben Blanchet is a 13-year-old boy with autism. When he was three years old, he was tested for having perfect pitch. His mother says he has supersonic ears. He calls it his autism superpower.

8-blogsized

Ben has written a book called, “Maybe Autism is My Superpower.” In the book he describes the unique ways he hears, sees and thinks about the world around him.

On his Facebook page he encourages other kids to post about their “superpowers,” whether it’s drawing, musical ability, memory, etc. It’s a place for them to share their stories and pictures or videos of their special talents.

On June 9, at the Carle Place, NY Barnes & Noble store, Ben did a book signing and reading from his book. A fun event was planned around his appearance, with activities for children and families.

1-blogsized

9-blogsized

Ben did a great job reading aloud from his book and finished up with this, “Everybody has superpowers. Even kids without autism have superpowers.”

6-blogsized

2-blogsized

Ben and Barnes & Noble generously selected NSSA to benefit from a portion of sales of eligible in-store purchases at the Carle Place store on June 9 and online sales through June 13. Ben’s book can be purchased here. We’re so pleased to have met Ben and his Mom and to have been part of such a fun day!

TEAM NSSA Cycles for Autism with Bike to the Beach

i Jun 25th No Comments by

The 2019 New York Bike to the Beach Ride for Autism and disABILITIES lucked out once again with a picture perfect day for cycling. June 8 dawned with blue sky, no humidity and light breezes, making for a pleasant ride for the almost 400 riders. Most started in Manhattan at 5:00 am, heading east to Westhampton Beach. This year there were also 50- and 25-mile ride options starting in Wantagh and Blue Point, all headed to the same finish line.

bike-to-the-beach-2019-4-blogsized

NSSA had four riders on TEAM NSSA: Thomas Cardone, Richard Kobel, Kristian Nielsen and Danielle Spinnato. Between them they have raised almost $4,000 so far! We’re so appreciative and proud of our NSSA Team for doing this ride and raising money for NSSA.

Bike to the Beach TEAM NSSA collage w text 2

Two NSSA staff members manned Rest Stop #6 in Blue Point, some 75 miles into the ride. As the ride is growing in size, it’s also picking up in speed. The first rider rolled into the Blue Point rest stop at 10:08 am! He was closely followed by a steady flow of cyclists all throughout the day. They got Dunkin Munchkins from NSSA (#NationalDonutDay), as well as water, power bars, sunscreen, band-aids, bananas and even pulled pork sliders from Texas Roadhouse!

1-blogsized

Riders took a little break in the shade, comparing notes with fellow cyclists and resting ride-weary legs. But soon they were on their way to finish the ride and enjoy the finish-line festivities there.

7-blogsized  bike-to-the-beach-2019-11-blogsized  2-blogsized    bike-to-the-beach-2019-6-blogsized

We’re so grateful to organizations like Bike to the Beach for promoting awareness and for raising funds that make a positive impact on the autism community. We thank Bike to the Beach for letting us be part of this wonderful event once again.

bike-to-the-beach-2019-5-blogsized

You can still make donations by going here, typing NSSA into the search box, and selecting TEAM NSSA.

NSSA Thanks Fidele Miranda and Empire Merchants

i Jun 20th No Comments by

Friday, June 14, was the perfect day for a party: sunny, breezy and dry. And Empire Merchants took that opportunity to treat their staff to a fun day of food trucks and carnival games as a way to show their appreciation for all the hard work their employees do on a daily basis.

NSSA was graciously invited to participate in Team Appreciation Day by Fidele Miranda, Vice President, Sales, United Division, who happens to be Jack’s (of Jack’s Run) proud uncle. We set up a table with lemonade, brochures and giveaways, and offered free raffle tickets for a $100 Amazon gift card. People stopped by the table throughout the day to get raffle tickets and make a donation while they were there.

cell-1-blogsized

Everyone appeared to enjoy the day, talking and laughing while enjoying sausage & pepper heroes, wood-fire pizza and cannoli. From the NSSA table we had a front row seat to the strongman game, watching people test their strength in trying to ring the bell. That drew quite an audience over the afternoon!

6.14.19-3-blogsized

6.14.19 2 blogsized

6.14.19-4-blogsized

In all, it was a wonderful day. Generous people donated over $1,300 in just a few hours!

cell-4-blogsized

NSSA is so grateful for friends like Fidele Miranda and Empire Merchants, not only for inviting NSSA to be part of their Team Appreciation Day but also for donating all the wine to NSSA’s Annual Wine Tasting every year for the past 12 years. Their generosity has helped us to fund much-needed programs and services to families touched by autism.

6.14.19 1 blogsized

cell-5-blogsized

Congratulations NSSA Graduates!

i Jun 18th No Comments by

graduation-6.17.19-1-cropped-blogsized

June 17th was Graduation Day at NSSA and we are very proud of our newest graduates – Annie and Kevin.

graduatesA graduation ceremony was held in the NSSA conference center for families, teachers, students and school district personnel. Unfortunately, Kevin was unable to attend but Annie and her family were able to join in the celebration. Annie’s classmates attended the ceremony as well as students from other classrooms.

graduation 6.17.19 14 blogsized

Annie entered the room with her teacher Christine to the tune of Pomp & Circumstance, wearing her blue gown and white graduation cap.

graduation-6.17.19-3-blogsized

She sat with her parents and sister while Principal Deb Kennedy welcomed our guests. Teacher Becky Chi put together a slideshow of both the graduates from their time at NSSA.

graduation-6.17.19-4-blogsized

Teacher Christine Holmes paid a touching tribute to both students. She expressed, on behalf of her fellow Classroom Four teachers, her pride and affection for both Annie and Kevin.

graduation-6.17.19-5-blogsized

Annie was presented with a certificate of completion from The Martin C. Barell School.

graduation-6.17.19-6-blogsized

Mary Catherine Culella-Sun, Director of Pupil Personnel Services from Annie’s home school district, presented her with a Skills & Achievement Commencement Credential.

graduation-6.17.19-7-blogsized

Congratulations were given, photos were taken and guests enjoyed socializing and refreshments after the ceremony.

graduation-6.17.19-9-blogsized

graduation-6.17.19-11-blogsized

graduation-6.17.19-13-blogsized

Best wishes on your transition to NSSA’s Adult Services Program, Annie and Kevin! We’re so very proud of all of your accomplishments.

NSSA Gets Moving for Global Running Day 2019

i Jun 6th No Comments by

Global Running Day 2019 was on June 5 and NSSA turned out on the track ready to run!

global-running-day-2019-8-blogsized

This national event is a worldwide celebration of running that encourages everyone to get moving. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far you run—what’s important is that you take part, and how you do it is up to you. Run a lap around the block, take your dog for a walk or meet your friends for a jog along the beach. The important thing is that you have fun being active—and you inspire others to join you.

global-running-day-2019-15-blogsized

global-running-day-2019-13-blogsized

global-running-day-2019-3-blogsized

This is the second year that NSSA has participated, thanks to the enthusiasm of Randy Horowitz, NSSA’s Associate Executive Director of Program Development. NSSA students, clients and staff celebrated Global Running Day 2019 by running or walking a couple laps around our playground track then getting a well-deserved snack.

global-running-day-2019-14-blogsized

global-running-day-2019-12-blogsized

global-running-day-2019-17-blogsized

Everyone had fun at this impromptu break!

global-running-day-2019-11-blogsized

Self-Advocacy Association of New York State University Graduation

i May 28th No Comments by

May 7, 2018 was the spring graduation ceremony of SANYS University. SANYS, the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State, is a statewide network of self-advocates with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.  According to their website,Regional self-advocacy groups throughout New York State provide opportunities for individuals to meet and discuss ideas and concerns with people who have had similar experiences.  These groups assist individuals to become full and valued members of their communities, and help to educate individuals on their rights and opportunities.”

SANYS U is a leadership course that teaches self-advocates and their support staff about the history of self-advocacy and their rights and responsibilities. It promotes strengthening of grassroots support and the development of strong local and statewide leaders. A sampling of topics offered in the course are: Introduction to Self-Advocacy & Leadership Development, Your Individual Rights & Responsibilities, Self-Advocacy Leadership Skills, You and Your One Wild Precious Life and Current Self-Advocacy Issues.

cortale-6-blogsized

Chris, a participant in NSSA’s Adult program, was one of the proud graduates of SANYS U in May. Chris describes SANYS as a group that advocates for people with developmental disabilities. He stressed the importance of learning how to write letters to state representatives. He said the group also helps individuals work on their goals and learn how to live a fulfilled life.

After attending four classes during the month of April, he received his SANYS U Certificate of Leadership Curriculum Course Completion at a ceremony at the Commack Jewish Community Center. Each participant took the stage for a brief speech. Chris was confident and eloquent as he spoke about what he had learned in the course and what he hoped this education could bring to his future.

cortale-2-blogsized

Chris now looks forward to contributing to the Positive Power SANYS group, a local chapter that meets periodically to discuss issues they want to address, such as making the self-direction process easier to navigate.

We’re so proud of Chris for taking steps to live a more independent and productive life.

NSSA & The Genesis School Partner to Host Staff Development Day

i May 22nd No Comments by

Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism and the Genesis School partnered on May 10, 2019 to present a Staff Development Day for their combined staff. Staff Development Day is a scheduled day of no programs for school students and adult program participants so teachers and direct support professionals and all clinical staff are available for a full day of training and inspiration to expand upon learning opportunities for their students and adult participants.

staff-development-day-5.10.19-8-blogsized

NSSA Associate Executive Director Kathy Mannion, NSSA Executive Director Nicole Weidenbaum, NSSA Associate Executive Director of Program Development Randy Horowitz, Eden II Executive Director Joanne Gerenser and Eden II Associate Executive Director Mary McDonald

Over 150 staff members were in attendance for the Keynote Address by Joanne Gerenser, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Executive Director of Eden II. Dr. Gerenser’s talk was titled, “Lessons from the Field: What I Love About ABA.” She spoke passionately about her lifetime of work with individuals on the autism spectrum and her experience with Applied Behavior Analysis. The talk was inspirational and the audience was attentive throughout. There was much positive feedback afterwards as well.

staff development day collage 1

Following the keynote, Mary McDonald, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA, Associate Executive Director for Long Island Programs and Chairperson of Eden II’s Research Review Committee, took the stage for a talk on “Evidence-Based vs. Non-Evidence-Based Interventions for Individuals with ASD.”

staff-development-day-5.10.19-25-blogsized

After a full morning in the auditorium at the Commack Jewish Community Center, everyone moved next door. Lunch was set up for round-table discussions such as “Multiple Schedules of Reinforcement,”  “Leisure & Fitness,” “Transition & Aging Out” and “Challenging Behaviors.” People shared experiences and asked questions as they ate.

staff-development-day-5.10.19-14-blogsized

In the afternoon following lunch there were more presentations:
•    “Working with Parents of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder” by Jayne Eaton-Bove, MS, NSSA Director of Clinical Services, and Michelle Banville, MS-Ed, BCBA, LBA, NSSA Director of Adult Day Services
•    “Providing a Purpose for Students and Their Instructors by Creating a Functional Curriculum for Adolescents with Autism” by Kathryn Reres and Rebecca Chi
•    “Innovative Employment Options for Adults with Autism” by Erin Sparacio-Archibald, MS Ed., SAS, SDA, Director of Long Island Administration at Eden II

staff-development-day-5.10.19-23-blogsized

Michelle Banville and Jayne Eaton-Bove

staff-development-day-5.10.19-22-blogsized

Rebecca Chi, Kathryn Reres and Eric Sporacio-Archibald

The day was informative, educational and inspiring for all.