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.
In spite of threatening skies, Mother Nature graciously held the rain off til just after the last award was handed out, and NSSA’s 12th Annual Jack’s Run for Autism Awareness went off without a hitch.
Over 150 runners came out to run and support NSSA.
Staff, families and even clients participated in the run…
As well as behind the scenes…
Jack himself had a great time running!
There were enthusiastic runners of all ages.
Congratulations to Overall Winner: 12-year-old Alex Addison and and Top Overall Female: 13-year-old Ishil Kirkhan
This gentleman has run Jack’s Run every one of its 12 years – thanks for your support!
We are grateful to the Miranda and Slone families for starting Jack’s Run 12 years ago in support of their nephew and NSSA.
We are so appreciative of everyone who helped make this event a success: runners, volunteers, donors, staff and sponsors.
Thanks to everyone who participated – we look forward to seeing you at future events!
NSSA’s 26th Annual Dinner for Our Children was held on April 14, 2018, the most beautiful day of the year! Guests were greeted at Leonard’s Palazzo by borders of cheerful pansies and daffodils.
Inside, tables were set for over 400 guests, the sumptuous cocktail buffet was open and the bar was taking drink orders.
A casino room, raffles, wheel of chance, prize balloons and prize boards offered guests opportunities to win prizes.
The Money Booth was open to let guests know what activities were available to them, how to play, and to redeem casino money for raffle tickets.
We welcomed familiar faces and made new friends.
Thank you to Carley Shore and Carley’s Kicks for Cure for donating another five iPads to NSSA!
The highlight of the evening was the generosity of our guests when we did a special fundraiser to raise $35,000 to commemorate NSSA’s 35th anniversary. With everyone’s help we not only reached our goal but surpassed it! Thank you to everyone!
And as always, there was an inspiring and moving video which you can see here.
We have so much gratitude for everyone who helped make this night possible – sponsors, donors, guests, families, volunteers, vendors and staff.
Events like this are so important in helping NSSA continue to offer the programs and services that are so needed by individuals and families touched by autism.
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.
On February 9, 2018, the students of Smithtown High School East once again turned their cafeteria into a winter wonderland for the students and clients of NSSA.
Snowflakes and Valentine’s hearts lined the walls and hung from the ceiling.
High school students danced and socialized with NSSA teens and adults. NSSA staff volunteered their time to be sure all went well.
Pizza, snacks and beverages were shared at dining tables.
NSSA’s own DJ Matt Figuccio spun records and kept the dance floor lively.
A fun time was had by all.
Thank you, Smithtown High School East, for welcoming NSSA into your school and into your hearts year after year.
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Each December The NSSA Parent Association hosts a holiday party complete with pizza, dessert and live music.
Teachers and direct support professionals enjoy the festive atmosphere while students and clients enjoy lunch and dancing.
Some of the adult clients have been practicing for weeks to put on a Holiday Singalong, led by teacher assistant Shelley.
Teachers got in the act, too.
And everyone else came to watch and sing along!
As if that wasn’t enough, on Friday, SANTA surprised the boys in Classroom 1 by showing up with gifts for everyone in the room!
It was quite the way to end 2017…and now classrooms are empty and quiet waiting to be filled again after New Year’s with happy excited voices and activity.
Here’s a little video for you…have a Happy New Year.
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!
NSSA held it’s 19th Annual Wine Tasting & Auction at the beautiful Garden City Country Club on Nov. 4, 2017.
The attendance of friends, families, staff member, volunteers and local residents gave the event a real party atmosphere.
There were games of chance and auctions with wonderful prizes to be won…
An amazing buffet…
As always, we thank Fidele Miranda & Empire Merchants for their generosity in donating a wonderful selection of delicious wines.
The astounding generosity of guests when it came time to donate using the thermometer app blew us all away – in just a matter of minutes over $19,000 was raised!!! Thank you so much to everyone who donated!
We also thank Champagne Sponsors, Mary Beth and Pat Miranda, for their generous support – congratulations on another spectacular event.
Thanks also goes to Rob and Laurie Rogers of Tobay Printing for their ongoing support of NSSA.
We have so much gratitude to everyone who attended, sponsored, donated, and worked so hard to make this year’s Wine Tasting a success. Thank you all for helping to make the event a success!
Everyone looks forward to Halloween at NSSA. Students, clients and staff have fun dressing in costume for the day’s activities.
The Halloween party is a big success with games, activities and treats. Adult clients do a great job running the different stations. And this year some of the younger classrooms went trick-or-treating in the administrative offices.
Students kept busy with games and activities.
NSSA held it’s first ever Brew-B-Q at the Great South Bay Brewery on Saturday, August 12.
Guests enjoyed unlimited barbecue, beer and wine.
There were plenty of games and activities to keep everyone busy.
Friends and families socialized…
The Fearless performed throughout the afternoon keeping the atmosphere festive.
The photo booth was a popular spot.
But without a doubt the most popular spot was the dunking booth! Adults and kids alike tried their hand at dunking volunteers. Thanks, Stacey, for being such a good sport!
a 125-quart Igloo cooler filled with craft beer from local Long Island breweries: Great South Bay Brewery, Sand City Brewing Co., Fire Island Beer Company, Oyster Bay Brewing Company, Port Jefferson Brewing Company and Montauk Brewing Company. Thanks to all who donated and helped to make the event a great one!
And two Paul McCartney concert tickets
We thank Great South Bay Brewery for their amazing space and all their support in the planning of the event, as well as our generous sponsors – thank you, everyone!
We’re already thinking of ways to make Brew-B-Q bigger and better next year, so we hope to see you there!