NSSA’s 20th Anniversary Wine Tasting & Auction

i Nov 14th No Comments by

NSSA celebrated the 20th anniversary of its wonderful Wine Tasting & Auction event on Saturday, November 3, 2018 at the beautiful Garden City Country Club. Friends, families, volunteers, local residents and staff all joined in for the celebration.

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There were raffles and other games of chance offering guests many opportunities to win fantastic prizes, such as Frozen on Broadway tickets, a 55” Smart TV and a $1500 Amazon gift card. Many guests went home happy with prize baskets in their arms!

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There was, of course, an amazing selection of delicious wines generously donated by Fidele Miranda and Empire Merchants. Thank you Fidele and Empire for supporting our event for 20 years!

Event founders Mary Beth and Pat Miranda were honored for their longstanding support of not only this event but of all NSSA events. Thank you, Mary Beth and Pat, for all you do for NSSA!

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In addition to the extravagant wine bar, there was a sumptuous buffet and pass-around appetizers throughout the evening, followed by dessert and coffee.

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The astounding generosity of guests was evident throughout the event. Thank you so much to everyone who attended and donated!

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Bracelets hand-made by NSSA’s Adult Clients, for sale at the money booth, were the hit of the evening!

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Thanks also go to Rob and Laurie Rogers of Tobay Printing for their ongoing support of NSSA and for printing our beautiful event journals.

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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: Champagne Event Sponsors: Mary Beth & Pat Miranda; Wine Sponsors: Fidele Miranda and Empire Merchants; Chardonnay Sponsors: Richard & Merry Slone; Merlot Sponsors: The Cahill Family; Pinot Sponsors: Phil & Carolyn D’Avanzo, The Liggio and Haiduk Families, Mark & Lorraine Healey; Grand Raffle Sponsor: Maureen Fanning and Printing Sponsor: Tobay Printing. Thank you all!

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NSSA Flying High with Blue Horizons

i Nov 5th No Comments by

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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.

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Thanks JetBlue and Autism Speaks for including NSSA once again in this important event.

Eat, Drink & Be Scary: Halloween Party at NSSA!

i Nov 2nd No Comments by

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.

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Students went trick-or-treating from room to room asking for treats, waiting their turn and showing off their costumes.

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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.

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At least one teacher got mummified by her students with toilet paper!

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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!

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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!

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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!

A Fine Fall Day at NSSA

i Oct 23rd No Comments by

Classroom 1 headed to De Lea Sod Farms in Elwood, NY to pick pumpkins in preparation for Halloween. It was a crisp, clear morning and the students had the pumpkin patch all to themselves.

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While they were having a brief break from their classroom day, they were still working on things like following group and individual direction and practicing waiting in line to make their purchases.

Some students chose the biggest pumpkins they could find!

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While others chose more manageable sizes.

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Not sure who had a better time – students or teachers!

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Lugging pumpkins is hard work, but somebody’s gotta do it!

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Pumpkin picking was a perfect break after a morning of classroom work for Classroom 1!

NSSA Week in Review: August 13-17

i Aug 17th No Comments by

It was Spirit Week here at NSSA! The last week before program breaks we like to have a little fun and dress in a different theme for each day.

Monday was Character Day, where students, clients and staff dress wear a logo tee representing a favorite character.

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Everyone’s favorite, Tie Dye Day, was Tuesday.

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Some recreation time at Adult Services.

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S. using the postage meter to finish the Adventureland flyer mailing. Are you coming? It’s Friday, September 28, from 6:30-9:30pm.

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Through a grant awarded by Autism Speaks, NSSA was able to host a two-day workshop entitled Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism Spectrum Disorders for School District personnel from Long Island school districts.

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R. washing veggies for the Salad Shoppe.

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Adults do a yoga class for some relaxation.

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Classroom 1 went to an end-of-year party at a classmate’s house!

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And a last day of summer program field trip to Adventureland for some adult clients.

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We had a great, active summer here at NSSA and now it’s time for a program break. Hope everyone enjoys their time off…and we’ll see you back here in September!

 

 

We Are Family

i Aug 14th No Comments by

Every year NSSA holds a special “Sibling Day,” when families and friends are invited to spend a fun day with students, clients and staff. Siblings have a chance to interact with their own brothers and sisters, and to meet up with other siblings and family members like themselves.

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It was another scorcher last week for this year’s Sibling Day, but students, clients and families made the best of it by playing on the giant bouncy waterslide, splashing in the pool and lunching in the shade.

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The playground was put to good use, as well.

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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.

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Everyone loved the prize wheel and photo area.

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Families and friends mingled and enjoyed watching the children (even the adult ones!) having a fun day.

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The ice cream truck rounded out the day with ice cream for all.

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We love all the excitement and happy faces on Sibling Day – we hope you do, too!

NSSA Week in Review: Aug 6-10

i Aug 10th No Comments by

Welcome to another week at NSSA. Here’s a little of what’s been going on around here.

The face you make when you see your buddy wearing the same shirt as you!

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Who doesn’t love bubbles?

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Classroom 2’s littlest yogis.

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Namaste

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NSSA’s annual Sibling Day is always a lot of fun for families, students, clients and staff. Here’s a sneak peek….you’ll see more in a full blog post next week!

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And that brings us to the end of another week at NSSA – join us again next week!

A Day in the Life of Classroom 3

i Aug 7th No Comments by

NSSA’s Education Program, The Martin C. Barell School, has four classrooms. Classroom 3 is the second oldest class, with seven students ranging in age from 16 to 17. They spend their days doing classroom work both individually and as a group, doing jobs in the community, and engaging in recreational activities, such as yoga, going in the pool, spending time on the computer, or relaxing in a beanbag chair in a quiet corner of the classroom. That said, every day is a little bit different…so let’s follow the students of Classroom 3 around for one day and see what their actual day is like.

This particular Wednesday started out drippy and steamy as the students arrived at school by bus.

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They put their belongings away in their lockers then went to their classroom where they worked independently on tasks such as filing, counting, following written instructions, etc.

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Early in the morning they headed to one of their job sites at Outback. They go well before opening time to clear off tables, wipe them down then re-set them with menu cards and folded napkins. They fly through their tasks but still do a really good job.

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Great job, guys!

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After finishing their work at Outback, everyone got back in the van to return to school. A few students went right back out to another job site with Classroom 4 and a couple headed to Elija Farm for a meditation class.

When everyone returned a little later, they all met in the gym for yoga with Miss Danielle. The practice involves following instructions, maintaining positions and breathing.

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By this point in their busy day everyone was ready for some savasana!

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Lunchtime!

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After lunch the students had leisure time, during which they can go on the computer or iPad or do puzzles or other favorite classroom pastimes.

Then it’s Smartboard time where students work on taking turns, calendar skills, phonics-based learning and more.

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After their long day the students got to relax until it was time to get on their bus, either having a snack or using a computer or iPad.

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And then it was time to go home after a very full and productive day!

Hope you enjoyed spending the day with Classroom 3!

A Toast to NSSA’s 2nd Annual Brew-B-Q!

i Jul 31st No Comments by

Temperatures soared on Saturday, July 28, but guests still had a good time at NSSA’s 2nd Annual Brew-B-Q at the Great South Bay Brewery in Bay Shore, NY.

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Delicious food was prepared by Fireside Caterers of East Northport and people dined throughout the afternoon on grilled burgers, hot dogs and barbecued chicken, side salads and corn on the cob, with cooling watermelon for dessert.

Families and friends played corn hole, can jam, ladder ball, giant jenga and badminton, while younger kids jumped in the bounce house.

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The dunk tank was a popular attraction.Thanks to all our “dunkees”!

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Some tried their hand at winning prizes at soccer darts and the wheel of chance, and many walked away with whimsical inflatable coasters, gift cards, light-up beer stein pins and more. There were two great prizes raffled off: A Coolest Cooler filled with craft beer from local Long Island breweries and a tour for 14 on Riverhead’s Brew Crew Cyle. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone who bought raffle tickets!

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Soar Photo‘s photo booth was a popular spot.

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Talented local bands The Big Happy and Arnold on Mars performed throughout the afternoon keeping the atmosphere festive.

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Even the kids were transfixed!

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And may I just say…NSSA Volunteers Are the Best! They spent the day in sweltering heat, checking people in, selling t-shirts, running games and just in general making sure things went smoothly and guests were fed and having a good time!

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Brewery staff helped guests try the different beers and wine.

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And friends and families just hung out together and generally had a good time enjoying the festive atmosphere.

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We can’t thank Jen O’Malley and Tori Ardito enough for all the hard work, long hours, enthusiasm and love they poured into this event. Thank you!

We especially 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!

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Thanks to everyone who attended, volunteered, sponsored, donated and worked this exciting event!

Ready to Run: NSSA Running Club

i Jul 24th No Comments by

Earlier this summer we shared (here) that Randy Horowitz, NSSA’s Associate Executive Director of Program Development, began a school-based running club here at NSSA.  The weekly practices are broken into two groups: The Junior Runners (the younger students in classroms 1 & 2) and Senior Runners from classrooms 3 & 4.

The club meets on Friday mornings and Randy and Barell parent Jennifer Prince spend 30 minutes leading students through warm-up exercises…

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an individual short run…

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a couple laps around the playground track with a teacher or running partner….

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…and finishing up with a brief cool-down and a round of applause for their efforts.

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The purpose of the running club this summer is to assess student’s skills, motivation and interest in running. Randy anticipates that by summer’s end they will have identified a handful of students who could be interested in running longer distances (perhaps a 5k, Jack’s Run, Blazing Trails for Autism 4 mile run, etc.). These students will be paired with staff and parents who can coach them towards this goal.

Randy shared why participating in organized runs or races could be a benefit for our students: “In addition to decreasing problem behavior and increasing health and fitness, among the most important benefits of exercise for individuals with autism, are the social implications of participating in activities with typically developing age matched peers, and relatives (e.g., siblings and parents).”

If you want to read the story of a family who helped their two sons with autism by running together as a family, read Silent Running: Our Family’s Journey to the Finish Line with Autism by Robyn K. Schneider. Ms. Schneider, the boys’ mother, shows how skill building, effective supports, developing community partnerships and selecting activities based on shared interest, can promote independence and community integration for individuals with autism.

And there’s certainly no denying the joy on these faces!

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Thanks, Randy, for starting this important exercise club for our students!