NSSA received a lovely donation of 100 undecorated snowman cookies for our students to decorate and enjoy. Anne Doscas is a long-time friend of NSSA, first learning of the school through Barell parent Cindy Wittels. She has been donating beautiful autism-themed cookies to and attending NSSA fundraising events for years.
Someone’s excited about cookie decorating!
All the Martin C. Barell classrooms participated in this project, from icing to decorating with sweet shapes, colored sugar and pretzel sticks.
Even while doing a fun activity, the students were practicing skills such as following directions, working in a group, using fine motor skills, counting, color identification and snack preparation.
And the reward for their efforts?? Cookie eating!!
Thanks, Anne, for giving our kids such a sweet project!
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!
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.
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!
While others chose more manageable sizes.
Not sure who had a better time – students or teachers!
Lugging pumpkins is hard work, but somebody’s gotta do it!
Pumpkin picking was a perfect break after a morning of classroom work for Classroom 1!
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…
an individual short run…
a couple laps around the playground track with a teacher or running partner….
…and finishing up with a brief cool-down and a round of applause for their efforts.
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!
Thanks, Randy, for starting this important exercise club for our students!
We started the week with a visit from Ginny Green from Autism Speaks who delivered a plaque regarding a grant they awarded NSSA for Building the Field and Scope of Educators Supporting Children with Autism. Thanks, Autism Speaks!
The week started out hot so some of the adult clients came over to cool off in our pool…
…and later to indoor air-conditioned glow-in-the-dark mini golf.
Students did more tie-dying in preparation for Brew-B-Q.
Adult clients were given the job of weeding this raised bed at the Elija Farm. Look at the great job they did! Great teamwork, everyone!
J from NSSA’s Green Team came to pick up the shredding and recyclables from the Martin C. Barell building. You can learn more about The Green Team in an upcoming blog post.
The Running Club had a second meeting on Friday morning.
And students enjoyed the weekly summer visit from Mr. Softee after lunch!
And so ends another week of NSSA’s summer session. Check back next week to see what we’re up to!
NSSA’s Executive Director, Nicole Weidenbaum, hosted an end-of-school year pool party for her young sons and their friends last Friday. Her sons asked if their friends from Classrooms 1 & 2 at the Martin C. Barell School could come to the party, too.
It was a pleasure to see children be so inclusive of their peers with autism. Our students were respectfully and happily welcomed and enjoyed a great day with their new friends.
The kids played in the pool, went down the water slide, played soccer, and had pizza and treats from the ice cream truck. And basically just hung out together.
Classroom teachers stayed close by at all times to supervise the fun and make sure everyone had a safe time.
Thank you to Nicole’s kind-hearted boys for welcoming our students into their home and hearts.
Carley Schor (read more about Carley here) came to NSSA to visit her friend T, a Barell student, and donate more iPads to the school, purchased with money from sales of her handpainted sneakers at Carley’s Kicks for Cure. Carley has just graduated from high school and is preparing to leave for her first year of college at The George Washington University in Washington, DC this fall.
Carley donated three more iPads to NSSA, bringing the total to over 17 iPads for students and a large screen tv for the school!
Students from the youngest classroom help open all the packages.
In appreciation of all Carley has done for NSSA over the years we presented her with an engraved plaque and a going-away gift for college.
J. uses his iPad to say “thank you” to Carley.
At college, Carley will be in the Human Services & Social Justice Program, preparing to serve people and communities in need. We’re sure Carley will be a success at whatever she does and make a great difference in the world. She has certainly made a generous impact on NSSA!
Thank you for your caring, donations and friendship, Carley!
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!