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!
May 18, 2019 was a picture perfect day for NSSA’s 13th Annual 5K Run Walk for Autism Awareness. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and a light breeze kept everyone cool while running.
This was a special year as the run was moved to beautiful Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. This is a more central location for many people as well as a scenic spot with generous shade trees and grassy picnic areas for relaxing after the run. We hope this made for a great experience for our runners and their friends and families.
The day began with a generous breakfast spread of bagels, bananas, oranges and Entenmann’s and home baked goods by our own Connie Grassle. Gatorade, orange juice and water was available to quench our guests’ thirsts. Thank you to all our Breakfast Sponsors for keeping our runners fed and refreshed!
Volunteers from Global Facility Management & Construction, Inc. and both Lynbrook and Half Hollow Hills High Schools were on hand bright and early, balloon filling, course marking, table cleaning, muffin cutting, tee shirt dispensing – all the things that need to happen before a successful run. NSSA families and staff were also on hand to help out where needed. We couldn’t do it without their tireless help.
The race went off right on time at 8:30am and runners sped around a 3.1 mile course.
And as always, we welcome walkers too!
We were excited to see so many NSSA students and adult program participants joining in the race after training with the NSSA Run Club this year.
Post-run, Mike Miranda announced the overall and category winners.
Congratulations to James Gallagher for being the overall race winner and Top Overall Male with a time of 19:18 and to Courtney Koleda for coming in as Top Overall Female with a time of 22:50.
You’re ALL winners in our book!
Thanks to the Slone and Miranda families for all their support of Jack’s Run and NSSA.
We couldn’t put on an event like this without the help of our sponsors, volunteers, donors, families and runners. Your generosity means so much to so many.
You can see all the finishers below!
On April 2, 2019, World Autism Awareness Day, 10-year-old Jake Prince got up in front of his entire school at Waverly Park Elementary School and gave a presentation about autism to his fellow students.
Jake’s younger brother has autism and attends the Martin C. Barell School in Commack, NY.
Jake’s presentation was called “What is Autism” and shared what it’s like living with a brother with autism. When he asked the audience if there were any questions, one girl asked, “Do you ever wish your brother didn’t have autism?” His very mature and poised response was, “I wish NOBODY had any disabilities!”
All during the week, Jake has been reading to his 5th grade classmates from Meet LISA at NSSA, a book featuring stories inspired by those served by NSSA, and selling Autism Awareness bracelets. His bracelet sales raised $477 which he donated to his brother’s school!
Jake is a wonderful example of today’s youth that is being raised to be compassionate and accepting of differences in people in the world around them. Young men like Jake give us hope that the future can be a better place.
We’re so proud of Jake that we’re officially declaring him an NSSA Champion!
On January 11th, the Smithtown High School East Leadership Club hosted an evening of dancing, food and fun at their Red Carpet themed winter dance for NSSA adult participants, consultation students and Barell students over the age of 14. This is a unique opportunity for our students to participate in a typical school dance experience. They are able to interact with and learn from the students of Smithtown as well as have fun and create friendships.
Attendees arrived by walking up a red carpet and into a gym filled with high school students dressed up and ready to dance with them.
Many thanks to Stacey Agosta for helping to coordinate the event, NSSA teachers and direct support professionals for accompanying their students and adult participants and Smithtown High School East for their graciousness and hospitality in hosting for us once again.
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?
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.
Crisp autumn air and colorful fall foliage mean one thing – it’s time for NSSA’s Annual Halloween Party for students, clients and staff! The day began with bears, pigs, a dinosaur, The Back Street Boys and more entering the building in full costume.
Students went trick-or-treating from room to room asking for treats, waiting their turn and showing off their costumes.
But Halloween is not just about costumes and candy. The gym was turned into Halloween Hall for the annual party. Adult clients manned stations where students took turns making pumpkin slime, cheez-doodle jack-o-lanterns, q-tip skeletons and more.
At least one teacher got mummified by her students with toilet paper!
The grand finale of the party was the pinata where everyone took a swing or two at the hanging pumpkin. There were a few tentative swipes and then one decisive swing brought the pinata crashing to the floor!
Teachers, Direct Support Professionals and other administrative staff showed off their creativity in the costume contest–and while everyone is a winner–The Banana Splits got the most votes. Congratulations, Classroom 4!
anks to the hard work of Principal Deb Kennedy and all the teachers and staff for creating such a fun day for students and staff!