NSSA’s adult clients recently started attending hour-long meditation classes at the nearby Elija Farm. Once a week they arrive at the peaceful farm in the morning and go directly to the farmhouse, where Tim & Steph of Astral Recess have set up the room for comfort and relaxation. The lights are low, gentle original Astral Recess music is playing and a scent diffuser is wafting a gentle aroma through the air. The floor is lined with cushiony mats, with thick yoga mats on top, creating individual spots for each client to lay. Another folded blanket will become a pillow under their head and a third blanket is laid atop each individual once they are laying down comfortably.
In gentle tones, Tim & Steph welcome the group to the class and ask everyone to get comfortable and relax. Tim guides the clients through deep breathing while Steph annoints her hands with essential oils and walks quietly from person to person, bending down and holding her hands near their face so they can breathe in the calming scents. At this point most of the clients are quiet and still. Some make some slight movements but if someone is uncomfortable, their teacher accompanies them out of the room for a walk or bathroom break, and they rejoin the group when they can.
Jason H (you met him here) joined Tim & Steph at the front of the room and began playing the singing bowl, which emits a gentle tone. Steph was using tuning forks to create even more soothing sounds in the room. Occasionally Tim reminded the group to relax and breathe and praised them. At one point he walked around the room from client to client, placing the metal singing bowl on their upraised palm and “gonging” it gently so they could feel the reverberation. Everyone seemed to enjoy this.
For about the last ten minutes, Tim & Steph resumed their spots seated at the front of the room and continued playing the bowl and forks, so the room was filled with lovely soothing tones as everyone relaxed comfortably and quietly.
Finally the music changed to a light jazzy version of Mr. Rodger’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” theme song, and teachers started helping their charges to a sitting position, everyone moving slowly and quietly. Tim & Steph thanked everyone for joining them that morning and wished them a good rest of the day…and the spell was broken. We all left the room, returning to the bright light of day…but carrying a bit of peace in our hearts.
Tim & Steph have been developing and expanding the Astral Recess sound and meditation program for the Elija Farm since 2017. They are excited to be working weekly with their friends at the farm and hope to bring the program to more schools and learning centers soon.
On April 13, 2018, Smithtown High School East hosted a Candyland-themed Spring dance for the students and clients of NSSA over the age of 14.
Guests eyes lit up when they saw the tables strewn with an assortment of candy.
A dinner of pizza was served by high school volunteers…
…and then DJ Matt Figuccio turned on the music and colored lights and the dance floor got hopping!
Since they’ve been doing this for NSSA for over 6 years, our clients are now familiar with the high school students and the dances are a good time to catch up with old friends and have a little fun down-time with NSSA teachers.
We are so appreciative of our friends at Smithtown High School East for being such gracious hosts and befriending our students and clients and creating these fun social activities for them! Thank you also to NSSA’s Matt Figuccio for the music, Stacey Agosta for coordinating and overseeing the event and NSSA teachers and Direct Service Professionals for attending the event and making sure our students and clients have a good time.
A new venture at the Martin C. Barell school program is Classroom 4′s Salad Shoppe. They’ve been planning it for quite some time, matching “salad prep/business” skills to IEP goals, and finally three weeks ago they opened the salad delivery service up to a small group of customers – administrative staff and the finance department. And now this week, after many positive reviews and success with the salad team in the classroom, they are opening the service up to all staff and this week they expect over 20 salad orders!
On Tuesday of each week, staff members get an order form in their mailbox that students have copied and stapled. Customers get to choose type of salad, mix-ins and different dressings. On Wednesday, once the salad team has taken inventory of what is needed to fill the orders, they go shopping for all the components. The students keep track of the money and budget so they can make all the necessary purchases.
Thursday mornings are busy with food prep – cleaning, chopping, peeling, measuring, etc.
Then it’s time to assemble and everyone pitches in. Based on their IEP goals, each student has a different job to do – whether it’s labeling, measuring, counting, assembling, etc. At the same time that they’re making lunches, the students are also learning new vocabulary, following multi-step directions, learning to recognize fresh vs. rotten or expired foods and more.
Kitchen safety is a priority and the students use a Slapchop tool to keep fingers away from sharp knives.
Once all the salads are made, labeled and matched with the appropriate on-the-side dressings, it’s time for delivery. All the containers go into a shopping cart and the team travels around the building doing personal deliveries of staff salads. It’s always a pleasure to see them arrive at your door!
The Salad Shoppe has its own Instagram page where you can follow their salad adventures from week to week – we hope you will follow them!
See you on Thursday!
Over 30 young people with autism spent the last week of June swimming, swinging, sliding, bouncing, crafting and relaxing at NSSA’s summer day camp.
The one-week camp helps provide structure and recreation opportunities for children with autism at a time when there are typically no summer school sessions available.
Every day is filled with activities and field trips. The playground gets plenty of use. A bouncy house with water slide is a big favorite.
The ice cream man pays a visit bringing the kids icy treats.
Pump It Up in Plainview is a great place for letting off some steam…or relaxing!
Kazam in Farmingdale encourages campers to climb, shoot foam balls through tubes, and get rained on by cascades of soft balls falling from above.
Craft projects allow kids to take home a personalized souvenir from their fun-filled week.
Kids splash safely in the enclosed pool under the watchful eye of the lifeguard.
The final day is a little bittersweet as we say goodbye to new friends…but we always have next year to look forward to!
The students and faculty of Smithtown High School East, once again, hosted an evening of dancing, food and fun at their Hollywood-themed event for NSSA adult clients, consultation students and Barell students aged 14 and up.
Attendees arrived by walking up a red carpet and into a gym filled with high school students dressed up and ready to dance with our students and clients.
It’s so great to see our students and clients having a great time with the Smithtown East students and one another.
The high school also served a fun pizza dinner that was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Many thanks to Stacey Agosta for helping to set this up, DJ Matt Figuccio for the dance music, NSSA teachers for accompanying their students and Smithtown High School East for their graciousness and hospitality in putting this event on for us once again.
The spirit of our loyal supporters prevailed on May 6, 2017, as the day of the 11th Annual Jack’s Run began with drizzly grey skies and whipping winds…and still we had a full turnout of racers and walkers and volunteers!
Volunteers arrived at the venue hours ahead of race time to mark the course, set-up the post-race breakfast, organize registration and prepare the water stations. We were happy to see so many enthusiastic registrants show up in spite of the gloomy weather and run the 5k in support of NSSA and autism awareness.
Members of the football team of the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY were there along with their coach to run in support as well.
The Nesquik Bunny was on hand for photo opps and to give out prizes at the Nesquik booth.
Many NSSA and Barell families and staff showed up to participate and join in the race day fun!
The winner of the race was cheered to victory in a time of 17:32. Congratulations to Tim Cote!
The woman’s winner was Julia Savacool with a time of 22:33.
We are so grateful to everyone who participated in the day.
At this year’s Jack’s Run, NSSA presented a plaque to Ondine Slone and Mike Miranda in recognition of their ongoing generosity and dedication to this event and to NSSA.
Thank you to everyone involved who helped the 11th Annual Jack’s Run run as smoothly as it did – volunteers, runners, family members and staff. And of course our generous sponsors and donors.
And special thanks to Trophy Depot of New Hyde Park for the many medals we awarded to all our wonderful race winners!
Thanks everyone, see you next year!
Several years ago we made the acquaintance of a darling young man named Tyler Fazzari. Tyler arrived at NSSA, shortly after celebrating his 10th birthday, to donate almost $1000 that he had raised for us through his organization BirthdayBack. BirthdayBack is dedicated to inspiring people to use their birthdays as an opportunity to give back. It started with Tyler’s desire to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy and has since developed into something much greater. Since starting the organization, Tyler and BirthdayBack have raised over $50,000 for various local organizations!
In recognition of his generous achievements, we nominated him for the “Leader of Tomorrow” honor at Long Island’s Association for Fundraising Professional’s Annual Philanthropy Day. We were so pleased and proud to hear that he would be the recipient of the award!
We would like to share Tyler’s good news and to say THANK YOU again for all that he has done for NSSA, and for so many others. We are deeply grateful for Tyler’s friendship.
At this time of year, we remember all the people and organizations that have been a friend to us by making a donation, raising money on our behalf, volunteering at an event, or spreading the word about NSSA and autism awareness. We are so thankful and grateful for the wonderful people who support our organization and mission.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of our friends!
EIGHT-WEEK COURSE IN PARENT TRAINING: Incorporating Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) into Family Life
June 14, 2016 was a proud day here at NSSA. We had three fine young men graduate from the Martin C. Barell school program…in preparation of their entrance into NSSA’s Adult Services program.
Teachers, families, and district personnel have all done a great job in preparing the graduates for their next step at NSSA. Through job sampling or training, the Adult Services program works to ensure that the adults we serve are able to grow and develop to their maximum potential. Our primary concern for the adults we serve is that they continue to grow to their greatest level of independence through employment and skills required of daily living.
Families were beaming with pride as students accepted their certificates from teachers and school district personnel.
After the ceremony there was time for family photos, refreshments and cake.
We wish the graduates every success in this new phase of their lives.
Martin C. Barell’s Classroom 1 is our youngest classroom, with six boys between the ages of 7-9. Six (wonderful!) teachers work with them throughout the day from the moment they get off the bus in the morning until they leave to go home at the end of the day. As you can imagine with boys this age, this is a busy classroom! Let’s follow them through a day back last summer…
The boys arrive by bus at 9am.
They greet their friends while learning to unpack and put their backpacks away in their lockers.
The teachers were designing a new bulletin board for the classroom with the theme “Kicking Off to a New Year” so we had a little photo shoot with the boys dressed as football players.
Lunchtime is spent practicing using utensils and napkins appropriately and trying new foods.
Once a week the group takes a yoga class where they learn and practice postures and movements.
Some are super enthusiastic to get in the pool!
But once in, everyone enjoys themselves.
After swim it’s almost time to get ready to pack up to go home.
The end of a long day. See ya tomorrow!