Different Roads to Learning Publishes NSSA Salad Shoppe Curriculum for Young Adults with Autism

i Feb 11th No Comments by

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NSSA’s Salad Shoppe has been in existence since 2017. Classroom Four Lead Katie Reres and teacher Becky Chi developed the salad preparation and delivery program to help their students learn functional skills to use as they transition into adulthood and beyond their school-age program. The success of the program is due to the conscientious work of all the teachers involved and, of course, the students’ enthusiastic participation.

The salad shop program has proved so successful that educational publishers Different Roads to Learning published the curriculum in a digital format, which is now available for sale on their website here.

To show our appreciation of their efforts in creating this program, NSSA Executive Director Nicole Weidenbaum presented Katie and Becky with plaques of appreciation for their contributions.

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Nicole expressed her pride and appreciation for all of Classroom Four’s efforts: “I am in awe of the NSSA staff every day.  The systematic, dedicated and respectful way they work with our students and program participants is unparalleled.  We strive to reach as many people who are in need of services as possible.  The fact that Katie Reres and Becky Chi took what they do in class and made it replicable is a great source of pride for NSSA.  Thank you Katie, Becky and Different Roads to Learning for helping us to disseminate our curriculum.  I hope it is the first of many more to come!”

We are all very proud of the NSSA Salad Shoppe and especially the students for bringing this program to life by creating delicious, healthy salads and delivering them to happy customers at NSSA every week.

A Sweet Project at NSSA

i Feb 1st No Comments by

NSSA received a lovely donation of 100 undecorated snowman cookies for our students to decorate and enjoy. Anne Doscas is a long-time friend of NSSA, first learning of the school through Barell parent Cindy Wittels. She has been donating beautiful autism-themed cookies to and attending NSSA fundraising events for years.

Someone’s excited about cookie decorating!

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All the Martin C. Barell classrooms participated in this project, from icing to decorating with sweet shapes, colored sugar and pretzel sticks.

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Even while doing a fun activity, the students were practicing skills such as following directions, working in a group, using fine motor skills, counting, color identification and snack preparation.

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And the reward for their efforts?? Cookie eating!!

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Thanks, Anne, for giving our kids such a sweet project!

NSSA Coffee Shop Serves up Good Mornings

i Jan 18th No Comments by

For six years, a group of NSSA’s Adult Clients have been running a morning coffee shop called NSSA Cafe at the Martin C. Barell School. This has been a welcome perk to teachers and staff.

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As soon as the young adults arrive they get busy preparing for customers, setting up their work station in the gym, setting out milk, sugar, cups and stirrers and putting money in the cash register for making change. Michelle goes around the building with clipboard and order form, taking teacher and staff orders. Once she’s taken someone’s order, she knows it forever. She can even recommend new coffee flavors if a customer’s favorite is out of stock.

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While Michelle is out taking orders, the others start filling requests from customers who go to the coffee shop themselves. Katherine takes orders at the register and makes accurate change every time. Alex makes the coffee and keeps the milk and sugar containers filled and neat. Once drinks have been made, Jessica takes one cup at a time to its awaiting recipient.

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Plenty goes on behind the scenes as well. In addition to running the coffee shop itself, the adults are also responsible for keeping track of inventory and purchasing supplies and cleaning their coffee station and equipment. All the coffee shop related tasks are aligned with their goals of socialization, money management, sorting and inventory and following directions on purchasing supplies and staying on task.

 Diana Mazzeo, NSSA’s Finance Coordinator and longtime coffee shop customer, says “it’s a wonderful thing to have the coffee shop here at the school to enjoy a cup of coffee with a smile.”

 We all like the NSSA Coffee Shop a latte.

Riders Up!

i Jan 11th No Comments by

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.

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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.

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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.

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They saw where the horses sleep, eat, are groomed and bathed, and where they go for outdoor turnout and exercise.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We can’t wait to see where NSSA adults go next!

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Garlic Planting at Elija Farm

i Dec 18th No Comments by

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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.

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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.

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See meditation story here

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See cooking story here

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.

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Thanks, Elija Farm, for our ongoing partnership and collaboration.

A Special Night for Our Special Kids at Adventureland ~ Fall 2018

i Oct 9th No Comments by

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NSSA hosts A Special Night for Our Special Kids twice yearly at Adventureland in Farmingdale as part of its outreach to the greater autism community.

 

NSSA tries to schedule the spring and autumn events during program breaks to give our guests with autism and their families something to look forward to when there are few structured activities available.

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In spite of rainy weather all day, the evening was lovely, dry and warm and families enjoyed their time at the park on September 28th.

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Many families of a child with autism find going to an amusement park very challenging. Long lines and crowds can be especially difficult for these families. During NSSA’s events, Adventureland is closed to the general public and made available only to individuals with autism and their friends and families. Shorter lines and wait times for rides make it much easier for our friends with autism and more manageable and enjoyable for their families. Since the park is filled with people who understand and embrace autism, the atmosphere is very relaxed and suportive. We have heard countless times over the years that it is only during the NSSA events that many of these families would even consider going to an amusement park as a family.

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Our next Special Night for Our Special Kids at Adventureland will take place Tuesday, April 23, 2019 from 7:30-10:30 pm. Raindate: Thursday, April 25, 2019 from 7:30-10:30 pm. You may call or email our office to be put on an email mailing list to get a registration flyer. Phone: (631) 462-0386; Email: office@nssa.net

20 Successful Years of NSSA’s Annual Golf Classic

i Oct 4th No Comments by

It was a perfect fall day for NSSA’s 20th Annual Golf Classic at the luxurious Old Westbury Golf & Country Club on September 24, 2018. Golfers on the rolling 27-hole course played under sunny skies….

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…and the generous cocktail hour was served on the outdoor dining terrace overlooking lush green hills and trees.

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Congratulations to the Classic winners.

Winning Foursome of Mike Romeo, Jr., Mike Romeo, Sr., Steve DeMaio and Nick Marks.

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Second Place Team:  Chris Brutalera, Nicke Neverette, Mike Sweeney and Lance Slingter.

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 Third Place Team: Richard Cooke, Mike Kildale, Scott Fitzgerald and Clayton Taylor.

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All three teams went home with awards and prizes! Congratulations as well to our Closest to the Pin and Longest Drive winners:golf winners picture

NSSA received generous Sponsorship support for this year’s event. For a complete list of our sponsors, visit our Event Sponsors page.

We were delighted to honor Joe Longo, who has chaired this event for the entirety of its 20-year history, with a commemorative plaque.

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In 2016 were pleased to add a second golf chair. Thank you Joe Longo (Barrasso & Sons) and Joe Winters (Winters Bros. Waste Systems) for your tireless efforts in helping to create such a wonderful event for NSSA.

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We are extremely appreciative of all our golfers, donors, and volunteers for adding to the success of this event.

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NSSA received some spectacular prize donations. Many thanks to Joe DeNicola for donating two customized menu Chef’s Tables at his popular Ruvo restaurant as Live Auction prizes. We also thank Old Westbury Golf & Country Club for a donation of a golf foursome as a Board Prize.

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Thank you to everyone involved in this popular and success event – we hope to see you all again in September 2019!

NSSA Week in Review: July 30-August 3

i Aug 3rd No Comments by

Welcome to another week at NSSA!

The week started early, with Brew-B-Q fun last Saturday!

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NSSA staff and adult clients and Different Roads to Learning enjoy a working lunch at The Hog Pit in Chelsea, NY.

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Mid-summer is a busy time at the Elija Farm. Adult clients are busy weeding and picking! This week they were picking green beans.

Doesn’t J look cute in her tie-dyed Brew-B-Q tee shirt? You can still get one by calling 631-462-0386 or emailing office@nssa.net or just stopping by the office. All sizes are available and they’re $10.

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Buddies at Adult Services

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Working out at the Winters Bros. gym.

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Computer time.

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As always, happy faces at running club!

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Adult clients on a Friday field trip to the beach.

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Classroom 1 went to a student’s birthday pool party.

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And what better way to end the week than by watching J signing and signing the ABC song??

 

NSSA Week in Review: July 23-27

i Jul 27th No Comments by

Welcome back to another week at NSSA. We’re in the middle of our summer session and the days are hot and steamy but we’re making the best of it!

Running for the sheer joy of just being outside.

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Jumping for joy!

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Classroom Three went to their jobsite at Outback and made the place sparkle in record time! See more on this in an upcoming blog.

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Someone’s excited to go make chocolates!

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Classroom One hard at work making treats.

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Adult clients doing office work at Winters Bros.

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Classroom 1 went on their 1st Annual Pancake Breakfast at IHOP.

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Plenty of smiles at Running Club!

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Some adult clients went to South Bay Arts for drumming and karaoke.

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And everyone’s always happy for a visit from Mister Softee!

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Happy Friday, everyone – see you next week!

A Little Breathing Room

i Jun 4th No Comments by

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.