Let’s Dance!

i Jan 14th No Comments by

nassau suffolk services for autism, nssa, martin c barell school, autism, peer modeling, smithtown high school east, winter dance

As has become an annual tradition, the staff and students of Smithtown High School East hosted a winter dance for the 14+-year-old students and clients of NSSA and The Martin C. Barell School. On January 9, 2016, students decorated a cafeteria with giant paper snowflakes, twinkle lights and glittery branches, turning the lunchroom into a winter wonderland. Pizza and snacks were provided, as well as a yummy dessert buffet. DJ Matt Figuccio rocked the house with favorite tunes and colored light show. Smithtown High School East students mingled and danced with our students and staff, including a rousing conga line! When parents came at the end of the evening, they had some tired but happy kids to take home. Thank you Smithown High School East for inviting our kids once again to a super fun evening and for being great peer models for our students and clients!

nassau suffolk services for autism, nssa, martin c barell school, autism, peer modeling, smithtown high school east, winter dance

nassau suffolk services for autism, nssa, martin c barell school, autism, peer modeling, smithtown high school east, winter dance

nassau suffolk services for autism, nssa, martin c barell school, autism, peer modeling, smithtown high school east, winter dance

nassau suffolk services for autism, nssa, martin c barell school, autism, peer modeling, smithtown high school east, winter dance

nassau suffolk services for autism, nssa, martin c barell school, autism, peer modeling, smithtown high school east, winter dance

nassau suffolk services for autism, nssa, martin c barell school, autism, peer modeling, smithtown high school east, winter dance

Sibling Day at NSSA!

i Aug 19th No Comments by

Once a year we invite siblings and families to join students at the Martin C. Barell School for a day of fun and activities. This year was a packed house! The big bouncy house and slide in the backyard was a hit, the playground was bustling with kids of all ages, and the classrooms were set up for arts & crafts when a little quiet time was needed. It was also Luau Day, which made for an even more festive atmosphere!

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Brothers A & D slide together.

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Beautiful sisters.

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Proud big brother.

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Luau Twins and Sister.

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Look how sweet J is helping her big brother do his craft.

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Cousins are the new siblings.

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Could these brothers be any cuter?

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Love it when everyone gets into the “spirit” of Spirit Week!


Jason Harris: The Voice of Autism

i Aug 14th No Comments by

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Roslyn High School senior and NSSA Consultation student Jason hosted a screening of the documentary “Jason Harris: The Voice of Autism” this morning for NSSA staff, clients and students. The film shares Jason’s education journey from his initial early diagnosis at the age of 20 months and the success that applied behavior analysis has afforded him. He introduced the film very eloquently and then asked for quiet and for the lights to go down.

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Afterwards, Jason fielded questions from the audience. With his confident speaking manner and ease in answering all questions, he held his audience in rapt attention.

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The session ended with much applause and congratulations for a job well done.

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We’ve really enjoyed having Jason spend his summer session here with us and we’ll miss his smiling face here at Barell every day.  Just last week we got to share in his pride at passing his road test! Jason, we wish you much success in your senior year in high school.

They Could Have Danced All Night…

i May 8th No Comments by

On Friday, May 1, students at Smithtown High School East transformed their cafeteria into an under-the-sea wonderland for the NSSA Spring Dance.

Barell students and NSSA Adult Service clients dressed up in their springtime finery…some teacher “dates” were surprised with floral corsages (so sweet!).

Smithtown students provided and served pizza, salads and beverages, and boogied with our students and clients on the dance floor. There was even a photo-booth set up complete with fun props!

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Everyone had a blast dancing, singing, eating, laughing.

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Thanks again to Smithtown High School East for inviting our students and clients and for being such great hosts. Thanks also to NSSA’s Stacey Agosta for coordinating the event.

Dancing in a Winter Wonderland

i Dec 23rd No Comments by

Smithtown High School East’s cafeteria was hopping last week at NSSA’s 5th Annual Holiday Dance.

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Barell and NSSA students and adult clients over the age of 13 were invited to join Smithtown high school students for a rocking good time in a club-like atmosphere complete with disco lights and DJ Matt Figuccio.

New friends were made….

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Longtime friends were reunited…

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And while for some it’s all about that bass….

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For others it’s about  bustin’ their moves on the dance floor!

In all, everyone had a great time. Thank you to Smithtown High School East for once again hosting the event at their school, and to Stacey Agosta and NSSA staff for volunteering to make it a special night for the kids.

Wheatley School Students Visit Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism for A Day of Service

i Oct 23rd No Comments by

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Every year The Wheatley School in the East Williston School District does a “Day of Service” during which the students help someone in the community in some way.  Teacher Natalia McMillan said that some kids make care packages,  some visit the elderly, some do “green” projects, and NSSA was fortunate enough to have some students come to the Barell school to help and learn about children with autism.

The group of girls that joined us yesterday were enthusiastic and friendly and jumped right into activities with Barell students. They got a tour of the school then worked on classroom projects…

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and had lunch with our students.

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Many thanks to The Wheatley School for being a friend to NSSA and new friends to all our kids!

A Special Night for Our Special Kids

i Oct 8th No Comments by

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As part of its outreach to the greater autism community, NSSA hosts A Special Night for Our Special Kids twice a year at Adventureland in Farmingdale, NY.

Many families with a child with autism find the prospect of attending an amusement park on a typical evening extremely daunting. Long lines and crowds can be especially challenging for these families. During NSSA’s events, Adventureland is closed to the general public and made available to people with autism and their friends and families. On these special evenings, the amusement park is at reduced capacity. The shorter waiting times for rides make it much easier for our friends with autism and more manageable for their families. Since the park is filled with people who understand autism, the atmosphere is very relaxed and caring. We hear over and over again that it is only during the NSSA events that many of these families would even consider going to an amusement park as a family.

Our most recent event was Friday, September 26, and it was a perfect night – warm and clear-skied…and as a result it was the most well-attended Adventureland event we’ve ever had!

But even with so many attendees there was still little to no waiting for rides and games.

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Families and friends enjoyed time together…

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…arcade games…

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and just hanging out.

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(not to mention terrorizing the ticket sellers!!!)

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Stay tuned for the date of our spring 2015 Adventureland event!

Sibling Day at Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism

i Sep 3rd No Comments by

Once a year, on a summer day, NSSA opens its doors to brothers and sisters of students and clients for Sibling Day.

Special activities are planned – craft projects, bouncy houses, and opportunities for students to demonstrate newly-learned skills to their families.

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But really, it’s just a whole lot of bonding and fun that takes place! Over the years, it has sort of become “Family” day, and parents have come to stay for the festivities, which makes it all the nicer.

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And I don’t know about you, but I’m kinda thinking the dads are having more fun than the kids!!!

The New Playground is Here! The New Playground is Here!

i Jul 17th 3 Comments by

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After a week’s vacation and a week of the backyard being off-limits, you can only imagine the students’ joy at being allowed out back to The New NSSA Playground! Not only did the playground get a total makeover with a rubber surface system (very cushy on the feet and much more forgiving if a child takes a spill), there are also two new features – a “zipline” swing and a “cozy cocoon” (that spins!)!

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Of course, there are still all the old favorites – swings, slide, basketball, etc., but the children seem pleased at some new variety.

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The playground rebuild was an important project for NSSA as we have found the old engineered wood shred surface to be very challenging for use with children with autism – shred getting into students’ eyes and creating intolerable discomfort in the summer when shred would get caught in sandals and toes. It also required a lot of upkeep keeping it mushroom-free and level. The new surface is much safer, ensuring that our playground continues to provide a natural instructional environment where leisure and play skills can be taught.

The NSSA playground also plays a vital role in the academic and behavioral success of our students. Because it is so well-loved by our students, the playground serves as a powerful reinforcer. To motivate students to positive behavior and skill acquisition, instructors offer each student a choice from a variety of potential rewards in advance of instruction. The student receives the selected reinforcer only if he is successful at the lesson being taught. At NSSA’s programs we increasingly see time on the playground selected as a reinforcer for successful skill acquisition and/or appropriate behavior.

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We’d like to thank the following funders for making this wonderful (and fun!) project possible:

The Andy Foundation
Ronald McDonald House Charities of the NY Tri-State Area
Ronald McDonald House Charities Global
The Kohnen Family Foundation
Schulz Charitable Foundation
The Jack Fanning Memorial Foundation “Angels for Autism”

Everybody Loves a Party!

i Feb 26th No Comments by

Today, several classrooms celebrated a classmate’s birthday at Wood Kingdom . Students had a blast bouncing, sliding and jumping and everyone did really well handling the unfamiliar, noisy environment!