March 2020 was certainly one for the history books! Before coronavirus (BC) hit NY, our students and clients were busy with their usual activities.
NSSA staff, one Barell student and one Adult Program participant spent March 8th at Hofstra University’s popular Irish Fest. The Embracelets table had many admirers and shoppers throughout the day.
People especially loved the green bracelets, made especially for St. Patrick’s Day by students and adult participants.
Last fall, NSSA’s Adult Services Program started running a Sandwich Shoppe for program participants. The shop allows participants to generalize their mastered skills across people, settings, and materials.
Task analysis is used to teach hygiene rules (e.g., wearing gloves) to promote a safe and healthy environment. Visual cues are used to facilitate client collaboration to assemble sandwiches. And the process of delivering sandwiches to staff who have ordered them allows for generalizing communication goals of speaking slowly and clearly in a real-world setting.
And while it is benefiting participants, it benefits staff as well!
13-year-old Tommy recently celebrated a milestone—he got his braces off!
Prior to getting braces put on when he was 11, Tommy would go into his dentist’s office monthly to just spend time and get acclimated to the dentist and other staff. He would sit in the chair and the dentist would count his teeth, allowing Tommy to get used to having someone put instruments in his mouth. Dr. Schindel would go over a social story with Tommy, telling him each step of what was going to happen. Sometimes Tommy was able to watch other patients having their braces adjusted so he would know what to expect. In the beginning some of his classroom teachers would go with Tommy and his mother to the appointments to help the process go as smoothly as possible.
Tommy looked forward to his appointments and visiting his friend, Dr. Schindel. Earlier this month, after two years, Tommy had his upper braces removed and he now has the most beautiful smile! He currently wears a retainer at night and had no trouble adjusting to it. In fact if Mom forgets to give it to him at night, he reminds her.
You did a great job, Tommy, at handling this entire process with such maturity!
Since March came in like a lion, Adult Program participants continued making good use of the indoor exercise opportunities at the JCC and the Winters Bros. gym.
Jamie, an Adult Services Program participant, turned 33 in March and her friends at NSSA had a party for her with balloons and cake. You can tell from her big smile that she had a great day!
Happy Birthday, Jamie!
We’re always happy to see smiling faces on students and participants as they go about their day at program and at home.
NSSA’s school and adult programs were closed as of March 16, in response to the Covid-19 virus. But that didn’t mean that learning stopped! Our teachers, Direct Support Professionals, and clinical staff stay in contact with families, students, and adult participants via phone, email, text, and virtual learning via video conferencing.
Families shared with us how they’re all doing during this challenging time.
Exercise continues, even if indoors!
Students and adult program participants are putting skills learned at NSSA to good use in the real world.
And families are just enjoying having more time together,
We hope everyone is well, and being safe and careful. We look forward to seeing everyone back at NSSA soon!
While February was a short month, NSSA managed to fill it full of activities!
On February 7, the students of Smithtown High School East invited NSSA Adult Program participants and Barell students over the age of 14 to attend a Winter Wonderland themed dance. As always, everyone had a great time dancing, enjoying dinner and refreshments, and socializing with their peers from Smithtown High School East. Thanks to DJ Matt Figuccio for keeping the dance floor hopping!
Martin C. Barell School staff and students, and NSSA’s Adult Services participants and staff had fun dressing in themes each day of Spirit Week.
Barell Pink & Red Day
Barell Favorite Sports Team Day
Barell NSSA Day
Barell Fancy Friday
A Girl Scout mom, who works for Adult Services parent Joe Longo, arranged to have her girl scout troop visit NSSA on Valentine’s Day. They gave out cards they had made to our students and Adult Program participants.
February 11 marks the 15th anniversary of Autism Speaks. NSSA’s Executive Director, Nicole Weidenbaum, and Associate Executive Director, Kathy Mannion, attended a celebratory event where our colleagues at Autism Speaks unveiled a new re-imagined look and logo and launched a commitment to make 2020 the “Year of Kindness” for people with autism.
Part of the night’s program was a video presentation narrated by NSSA’s own Chris Cortale. Chris did a fantastic job and we are so proud of him! You can view the video at https://www.autismspeaks.org/…/introducing-new-autism-speaks.
We are so proud of Chris and his advocacy efforts on behalf of the Autism Community – congratulations, Chris!
Chris with the Autism Speaks social media team
Some of NSSA’s Adult Program participants spend a few days each week at Winters Bros. in a Lifelong Learning program. They have classroom lessons, fitness sessions in the gym, and do office tasks such a shredding and filing.
NSSA students go out in the community regularly to learn new skills and practice those they’ve already acquired. Here students are shown working at Panera and purchasing reinforcers.
Mikey has been practicing blowing out candles with his teachers and on the day of his birthday party, he did a great job blowing out the candle on his cake. Great job, Mikey!
Classroom 4 designed and created this beautiful bulletin board. Students colored each of the wing feathers. Don’t you think it makes a charming photo backdrop?
See you again in March!
New Year/New Decade!
NSSA students, program participants, and staff returned from the winter break refreshed and ready to start a new year.
NSSA’s Salad Shoppe got right back in the swing of things; taking orders, shopping for ingredients, and preparing fresh salads for staff.
And speaking of food, Adult Program Participants learned how to make tomato sauce from scratch in the Elija Farm kitchen.
Afterwards, they enjoyed the fruits of their labor with a spaghetti lunch!
Some students are already using their cooking skills at home.
Our Adult Program participants enjoy doing things for others. It’s hard for soldiers to be away from families and loved ones. Some of our Adult Service Program participants made cards to send to them through the Supportourtroops.org program to let them know they’re being thought of.
Classroom 1 went on an outing to Dave & Buster’s to practice skills learned in the classroom, like waiting their turn, following directions, and staying focused in distracting situations. It looks they had a little fun, too!
Some students have as much fun helping our Facilities Manager as others do at the arcade!
Looking forward to an equally busy February!
Saturday, November 2 was a glorious, crisp fall day and friends and families gathered at the beautifully-decorated Garden City Country Club for NSSA’s 21st Annual Wine Tasting.
This event is a favorite with its casual atmosphere, wide array of wines to sample, delicious passed hors d’oeuvres and lavish buffet, many opportunities to win wonderful prizes and a chance to catch up with good friends.
The delicious wines were generously donated by Fidele Miranda and Empire Merchants. Thank you Fidele and Empire for supporting our event for 21 years!
The event is such a success thanks in great part to Champagne Event Sponsors, Mary Beth and Pat Miranda, who do so much for NSSA year after year.
We are especially grateful to guests whose generous donations raised the money for us to purchase a new agency-wide communication system, which will help keep students and clients safe throughout our buildings and in the community.
Bracelets hand-made by NSSA’s Adult Clients, for sale at the money booth, were the hit of the evening! Framed photographs taken by NSSA’s Camera Club were offered in the Silent Auction and are now gracing the walls of some of our guests’ homes.
Thanks to Rob and Laurie Rogers of Tobay Printing for their ongoing support of NSSA and for printing our beautiful event journal.
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:
Thank you, everyone!
Halloween 2019 was a blustery day, but inside NSSA it was bright and cheery with laughter and fun! The day began with the annual staff Halloween costume contest – all the costumes were clever and everyone looked great!
Seeing the students in their Halloween costumes is a joy that we all look forward to every year.
Hope you had a fun Halloween!
At the end of every summer session, NSSA holds a special day for families and friends to spend an afternoon with students, Adult Program participants and staff. Siblings have a chance to enjoy some time with their own brothers and sisters, and to meet up with other siblings and family members like themselves.
The 8th Annual Family Day was held on Thursday, August 15, 2019. The high temperatures didn’t deter anyone and our playground was full and busy all day. The favorite activity had to be the giant waterfall slide, but the pool was a close second!
The NSSA Parent Association treated students and clients to a delicious lunch from the Eat Me, Drink Me food truck, while staff enjoyed a hero and accompanying sides. Friends and families ate at picnic tables in the shade and watched all the kids and adults having a good time around them.
It was a wonderful way to end the Summer of 2019. See you all in the fall!!!
The Art League of Long Island recently held their annual “Perspective” Exhibition Fundraiser for Young Artists with Autism and Developmental Disabilities.
One of NSSA’s own students, 17 year old Logan, submitted some of his original artwork to the exhibit. Since he was about 9 years old, Logan has been creating alphabets out of magnets, K’nex, PlayDoh and other toys. He creates them independently, spending time and concentration on each letter. He tries various combinations of shapes before deciding on just the right one and makes refinements along the way as the alphabet grows.
Logan’s mother takes pictures of them quickly before he takes them apart as he rarely leaves them lying around. She says, “When you witness the process, the artistry of what he does is more apparent than just viewing the final art.”
The exhibit shared three photographs of his original alphabet creations. The executive director of the Art League was very impressed with his work. His mother thinks he was happy to see his artwork displayed in a gallery setting alongside artwork by his peers.
We’re so proud of Logan for creating this original artwork and hope to see more soon!
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.
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.
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!
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
ID Cards & Personal Safety by Jason Watson
Lavender Vanilla Salt Scrub by Donna Lebovitch
Many 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 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.
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.
Ben did a great job reading aloud from his book and finished up with this, “Everybody has superpowers. Even kids without autism have superpowers.”
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!