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!
Participants in NSSA’s Adult Services Program have been busy making bracelets to sell to staff, families and at a local holiday fair. They started with Chakra bracelets, but they have branched out to other decorative beads and colors.
They work as a team, sorting and stringing the beads and packaging them according to size. Barell parent Liza Hein, has generously assisted the endeavor by sourcing and donating materials for the bracelets, as well as sharing her industry expertise.
On November 25, some of the adult program participants took their handmade bracelets and body scrubs, as well as knitted items donated by a staff member’s parent, to a local Holiday Fair. The Creating Keys Inclusive Holiday Fair was an ideal location for the clients to sell their items to the public.
Alyssa was an excellent salesperson, engaging with potential customers and upselling bracelet quantities. She was even interviewed by News12 (video below).
These handmade bracelets aren’t just beautiful to wear. They have provided an engaging project that contributes to the learning, growth and skill development of our adult program participants. We can’t wait to see where this project takes them next!
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!
Launched in 2010 with a grant from Autism Speaks, the NSSA Green Team helps individuals with autism learn new skills and prepare them for the workforce while simultaneously serving the community in a meaningful way by promoting environmental sustainability.
Every week, the Green Team collects refundable and nonrefundable plastic, aluminum and glass containers, as well as paper from local businesses and residences. Paper is shredded and other materials are cleaned and sorted to prepare for recycling. Nonrefundable containers, cardboard and shredded paper are delivered to local recycling centers. Refundable materials are exchanged at local grocery stores and money is reinvested in the program.
November 15, 2018 is #AmericaRecyclesDay. In support of the day, The Green Team kicked off a recycling drive with families of NSSA students and clients. To date, the NSSA Green Team has recycled over 1,000 pounds of shredded paper and cardboard, keeping it out of landfills. They have earned over $500 in the past few years by returning bottles and cans for deposit.
The Green Team partners with several Long Island companies and agencies, such as Geico, Suffolk Y-JCC and Elija Farm, in making recycling pick-ups and drop-offs. They continue to seek community partners that will allow us to place recycling containers at their locations. Containers will be maintained and emptied by Green Team participants on a weekly basis. For more information about partnering with The Green Team, contact Mark Kennedy, Participant Enrichment Program Lead, at (631) 462-0386 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about recycling, visit https://americarecyclesday.org/
We’re so proud of NSSA’s Green Team and the difference they’re making in the world.
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!