Many individuals with autism have extremely limited areas of interest and have to be taught how to pursue leisure interests on their own. Thanks to a generous grant from The Jack Fanning Memorial Foundation, NSSA has been able to offer the participants in its Adult Services Program opportunities to pursue a wide variety of leisure activities, such as music, yoga, bowling, painting, cake decorating, horseback riding and more. At NSSA we believe that the quality of life for all people is enhanced by developing a variety of interests to pursue. Through the generosity of The Jack Fanning Memorial Foundation, NSSA’s Adult Services participants are enjoying new leisure activities.
On October 25th, a group of adult participants went to New York Equestrian Center (NYEC ) in West Hempstead, NY. NYEC has a comprehensive therapeutic riding program that is specific to riders with special needs. The program has existed for several years and caters to those with physical, developmental or emotional disabilities. The program operates under PATH International guidelines which is the association that certifies riding instructors through training and education to safely and competently work with differently-abled individuals. PATH International has guidelines on therapeutic riding instruction that NYEC uses to asses both the individual as well as the most appropriate horse for them. While horses all have their own unique personalities, NYEC instructors assign specific horses for specific needs. For individuals on the autism spectrum, for example, they use a horse with a slower, smoother gait to provide less stimulation.
Jessica Boily was there to welcome the adults to their extended riding lesson, which takes place both mounted and on the ground. Jessica is a PATH International Instructor and Director of the Therapeutic Riding Program at NYEC. The adult participants started their visit with a tour of the facilities, petting velvety noses as they walked down the stable aisles.
They saw where the horses sleep, eat, are groomed and bathed, and where they go for outdoor turnout and exercise.
Then the group was split into two; with some donning protective riding helmets and others picking out brushes for grooming. The riders were helped up a sturdy mounting block and onto the horse they were riding. The horses were well-behaved and stood still while their riders clambered aboard. Once mounted, riders were shown how to position their hands on the reins and their feet in the stirrups, and off they went. Each participant was accompanied by an assistant, leading the horse and staying close to offer guidance and instruction.
Instructor Jess went back and forth, adjusting position and offering encouragement and praise. Every participant seemed perfectly at-ease with getting on and walking around the ring, even those who had never been on a horse before. One client who has been riding for several years even got to do some trotting. And the smiles! The indoor arena was positively glowing that chilly morning.
While the first group was riding, the others were learning how to groom a horse. Each chose a different brush and were shown how to move around a horse safely, while still getting them clean all over. Everyone seemed eager to be as close to the horse as possible and Lola was patient and still even with a dozen or more hands moving over her body at the same time. Eventually the groups switched roles and new riders mounted up and others continued grooming a different horse on the cross-ties.
Some of the more adventurous clients took turns leading a horse up and down the barn aisle, under the watchful eye of a stable employee.
After the mounted and ground lessons were finished, everyone got a special treat (including the horses!). Each client got to take a bucket of bran mash (a warm lunch treat for the horses) to a different horse and feed them.
The afternoon ended with hugs between NSSA clients and their new friends at New York Equestrian Center. We thank the center, all the helpful staff members, and especially Jess Boily for her experience and patience in helping our adult clients enjoy such a wonderful and memorable experience.
We can’t wait to see where NSSA adults go next!
On a crisp, sunny day in November, NSSA’s Adult Clients went to nearby Elija Farm to help with garlic planting. They started with a little exercise by walking around the planting fields, stopping at different spots along the way to smell herbs and identify different plants. They then all donned gloves and took turns planting garlic bulbs in the freshly-tilled soil. Many hands made quick work of the big job.
The ELIJA Farm offers opportunities for innovative, farm-based vocational programming for differently-abled individuals, and our Long Island community. Since 2016, NSSA Adult Services Program participants have helped with farm tasks, taken meditation classes and participated in healthy cooking presentations at the farm.
Everyone seemed to enjoy their work in the beautiful sunshine and we expect to be invited back in the spring to help harvest the garlic crop.
Participants in NSSA’s Adult Services Program have been busy making bracelets to sell to staff, families and at a local holiday fair. They started with Chakra bracelets, but they have branched out to other decorative beads and colors.
They work as a team, sorting and stringing the beads and packaging them according to size. Barell parent Liza Hein, has generously assisted the endeavor by sourcing and donating materials for the bracelets, as well as sharing her industry expertise.
On November 25, some of the adult program participants took their handmade bracelets and body scrubs, as well as knitted items donated by a staff member’s parent, to a local Holiday Fair. The Creating Keys Inclusive Holiday Fair was an ideal location for the clients to sell their items to the public.
Alyssa was an excellent salesperson, engaging with potential customers and upselling bracelet quantities. She was even interviewed by News12 (video below).
These handmade bracelets aren’t just beautiful to wear. They have provided an engaging project that contributes to the learning, growth and skill development of our adult program participants. We can’t wait to see where this project takes them next!
On November 30, the Smithtown High School East Leadership Club visited The Martin C. Barell School to learn more about NSSA’s school program. For seven years, Smithtown High School East students have been hosting dances for our students and clients at their school, so we have an excellent long-standing relationship with these amazing students.
When the Smithtown students arrived in the morning they were given a tour of the school by Stacey Agosta, NSSA Senior Behavior Intervention Specialist, then split up into smaller groups to spend time interacting with students in their different classrooms. Our teachers explained what the students were currently working on so the high schoolers were able to participate in the activities. They also brought craft projects to do with the students.
Afterwards, members of the Leadership Club shared a pizza lunch with the NSSA friends they have made over the years at their school dances.
We are so grateful to the students of Smithtown High School East for taking an ongoing and active role in the lives of our students and adult program participants at NSSA. We look forward to more wonderful events that these students host each year for their friends at NSSA.
For the past few months NSSA Adult Clients have been experiencing new activities thanks to a grant received from The Jack Fanning Memorial Foundation. NSSA has been offering more opportunities for enriching instruction in areas such as music, yoga, bowling, cooking, painting, horseback riding and more. Activities such as these help broaden the interests and skill development for our clients and help them to lead fulfilling lives.
On October 22, several groups of adult clients went to Bake Me a Cake Boutique for a step-by-step cake decorating class. They each had their own personal-sized cakes to decorate. They cut and shaped their cakes, rolled out fondant, cut out different shapes, and applied all the pieces to turn their plain cake into a whimsical rainbow fish. Tiny bites of sweet fondant may or may not have been taken throughout the class! At the end, the cakes were placed carefully into bakery boxes to be taken home to their families.
We can’t wait to see where NSSA adults go next!
Many individuals with autism do not know how to pursue leisure interests on their own or have extremely limited areas of interest. Due to a generous grant received from The Jack Fanning Memorial Foundation, NSSA is able to offer more opportunities for enriching instruction than ever before, in areas such as music, yoga, bowling, cooking, painting, horseback riding and more. Activities such as these help broaden the interests and skill development for our clients and help them to lead fulfilling lives of dignity and purpose.
In recent weeks, adult clients have been expanding their experience horizons with cake decorating, decorative sign painting, and horseback riding, all of which were a big hit!
On October 24, a group of clients went to LumberJax in Commack to make decorative signs. Family names and design choices were sent in ahead of the paint session and the LumberJax staff had stencils prepared for when the clients arrived. The use of layered stencils made it possible for clients to create unique and beautiful hand-painted signs for their home or family.
Decorative sign-painting was such a success, other groups from NSSA’s Adult Services have already returned to LumberJax for more creativity. What do you think of their artwork?
Thanks to the instruction and help from LumberJax. I’m sure we’ll be back!
From the time students and clients arrive at NSSA in the morning til the time they leave, their days are filled with learning, job sampling in the community, recreation and physical activity.
NSSA offers Parent Training workshops to help foster learning with challenges at home. In-home respite, a Saturday recreation program and a week-long summertime day camp are available to provide them with enjoyment, structure and leisure activities.
NSSA’s reach also extends beyond our walls with outreach in the form of consultation services to Long Island school districts and twice-yearly Adventureland events and training workshops for teaching professionals.
Your support allows NSSA to offer valuable school, adult and outreach programs such as these. Will you join our Give $5 Tag 5 Campaign for #GivingTuesday on November 27 to help NSSA raise money and spread awareness?
Launched in 2010 with a grant from Autism Speaks, the NSSA Green Team helps individuals with autism learn new skills and prepare them for the workforce while simultaneously serving the community in a meaningful way by promoting environmental sustainability.
Every week, the Green Team collects refundable and nonrefundable plastic, aluminum and glass containers, as well as paper from local businesses and residences. Paper is shredded and other materials are cleaned and sorted to prepare for recycling. Nonrefundable containers, cardboard and shredded paper are delivered to local recycling centers. Refundable materials are exchanged at local grocery stores and money is reinvested in the program.
November 15, 2018 is #AmericaRecyclesDay. In support of the day, The Green Team kicked off a recycling drive with families of NSSA students and clients. To date, the NSSA Green Team has recycled over 1,000 pounds of shredded paper and cardboard, keeping it out of landfills. They have earned over $500 in the past few years by returning bottles and cans for deposit.
The Green Team partners with several Long Island companies and agencies, such as Geico, Suffolk Y-JCC and Elija Farm, in making recycling pick-ups and drop-offs. They continue to seek community partners that will allow us to place recycling containers at their locations. Containers will be maintained and emptied by Green Team participants on a weekly basis. For more information about partnering with The Green Team, contact Mark Kennedy, Participant Enrichment Program Lead, at (631) 462-0386 or email@example.com
For more information about recycling, visit https://americarecyclesday.org/
We’re so proud of NSSA’s Green Team and the difference they’re making in the world.
NSSA celebrated the 20th anniversary of its wonderful Wine Tasting & Auction event on Saturday, November 3, 2018 at the beautiful Garden City Country Club. Friends, families, volunteers, local residents and staff all joined in for the celebration.
There were raffles and other games of chance offering guests many opportunities to win fantastic prizes, such as Frozen on Broadway tickets, a 55” Smart TV and a $1500 Amazon gift card. Many guests went home happy with prize baskets in their arms!
There was, of course, an amazing selection of delicious wines generously donated by Fidele Miranda and Empire Merchants. Thank you Fidele and Empire for supporting our event for 20 years!
Event founders Mary Beth and Pat Miranda were honored for their longstanding support of not only this event but of all NSSA events. Thank you, Mary Beth and Pat, for all you do for NSSA!
In addition to the extravagant wine bar, there was a sumptuous buffet and pass-around appetizers throughout the evening, followed by dessert and coffee.
The astounding generosity of guests was evident throughout the event. Thank you so much to everyone who attended and donated!
Bracelets hand-made by NSSA’s Adult Clients, for sale at the money booth, were the hit of the evening!
Thanks also go to Rob and Laurie Rogers of Tobay Printing for their ongoing support of NSSA and for printing our beautiful event journals.
We have so much gratitude for everyone who attended, donated, volunteered and worked so hard to make this year’s Wine Tasting a success. Special thanks go to our generous sponsors: Champagne Event Sponsors: Mary Beth & Pat Miranda; Wine Sponsors: Fidele Miranda and Empire Merchants; Chardonnay Sponsors: Richard & Merry Slone; Merlot Sponsors: The Cahill Family; Pinot Sponsors: Phil & Carolyn D’Avanzo, The Liggio and Haiduk Families, Mark & Lorraine Healey; Grand Raffle Sponsor: Maureen Fanning and Printing Sponsor: Tobay Printing. Thank you all!
Air travel can be stressful for even the most seasoned travelers, but for those who have autism and experience difficulty waiting, hypersensitivity to crowds and noise, anxiety and communication challenges, it can be even more difficult. As a result, flying is simply not an option for many families in the autism community.
On Sunday, October 28th, Autism Speaks and JetBlue hosted families at JFK’s JetBlue Terminal to participate in their Blue Horizons Event. Families were given an opportunity to navigate the air travel experience in a realistic and controlled environment, surrounded and supported by caring volunteers, Jet Blue employees, members of the TSA and NSSA’s experienced clinical team, as well as other families in the autism community. They checked in, received boarding passes, went through security, waited to be called for boarding and sat through an in-flight safety training. Once everyone was on board, the plane taxied around the runway for 15 minutes giving everyone the feel of an actual flight.
A team of NSSA’s behavior analysts was on-hand to provide support to families, helping to reduce anxiety, stress and behavioral challenges.