March 5, 2014 4:36 pm
On Tuesday, March 18, 2014, Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC) will host a job fair at their office located at 25-09 Broadway to recruit and fill multiple positions. QSAC is seeking employees to fill vacancies for community habilitation and respite opportunities.
Positions are part-time during the afternoon, evening, weekend and school holidays. Locations are in consumers’ homes throughout Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Nassau. Jobs are available in May 2014.
The Job Fair will provide interested candidates with an opportunity to interview with QSAC’s hiring staff while learning more about job opportunities with the organization. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent, however, a college degree is preferred. Applicants with a familiarity with people with developmental disabilities, a plus.
QSAC will be primarily recruiting candidates for Community Habilitation Specialist openings. Habilitation Specialists are responsible for the implementation of client treatment plans. In addition, to client treatment plans, employees promote client socialization, recreation, communication, travel training and money management where applicable. On-the-job training related to the responsibilities of the position will be provided.
Interested applicants can register online for an interview time at www.QSAC.com/JobFair. Interview times are available for 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 7 p.m. If you are unavailable to attend, please email your resume and a cover letter with a subject line indicating “Direct Care Worker” to email@example.com.
March 4, 2014 11:59 am
Earlier today, Council Member Corey Johnson visited QSAC’s Day Habilitation Program in his district in Manhattan. The Council Member had an opportunity to meet with program participants and staff while also learning more about QSAC’s programs and services for the autism community throughout the borough and the city. Council Member Johnson represents Manhattan’s West Side (District 3) and serves as the Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Health.
Council Member Johnson shakes hands with a participant from QSAC’s Day Habilitation program.
Council Member Johnson and a member of QSAC’s Day Habilitation staff discuss the impact of our programs.
February 27, 2014 10:00 am
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Feb. 27, 2014 – Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC), a New York-based charity supporting children and adults with autism, has selected Sprint (NYSE: S) as the 2014 recipient of the Change Maker Award for its commitment to accessibility for people with disabilities. Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO, will accept the honor on behalf of the company at QSAC’s annual gala taking place on Tuesday, June 17, at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers (West 26 Street and West Side Highway) in New York.
Each year, QSAC’s Change Maker Award recognizes a company that has made a meaningful commitment to supporting the needs of children and adults with developmental disabilities. Sprint is being honored for delivering innovative accessible solutions that empower individuals with disabilities.
Sprint offers a variety of products and services, including unique, accessibility-themed ID packs for select Android™ devices that are designed to accommodate various accessibility needs. Sprint’s Accessible Education ID pack, among other services, assists individuals with autism who are working to improve their socialization and communication skills.
“Sprint’s efforts to expand access to technology embodies our hope for more tools and resources to assist individuals with disabilities in achieving greater independence, empowering them to contribute more meaningfully to their communities,” said Gary Maffei, executive director of QSAC. “By recognizing Sprint, QSAC hopes to encourage others to actively support Sprint and similar efforts to expand access to technology for children and adults with autism.”
“At Sprint, we recognize how making wireless technology more accessible can reduce, and perhaps eventually eliminate, the communication barriers faced by individuals with disabilities,” Hesse said. “We embrace this challenge and we are proud to receive the 2014 Change Maker Award.”
Past recipients of honors from QSAC have included Pfizer and PIMCO. Each year, QSAC’s gala brings together more than 500 people to increase autism awareness while raising funds to support QSAC’s programs and services for the autism community of New York and Long Island.
Additional details regarding the gala are available online at www.qsac.com/gala. Current sponsors include Accenture, Astoria Financial Corporation/Astoria Federal Savings, Koeppel Auto Group, and Sprint.
Sprint’s corporate responsibility program, Sprint Good WorksSM, is guided by the principle that doing the right thing is good business. More than a statement, it’s also a belief: Good does indeed workSM. That’s why Sprint is committed to anticipating the needs of customers and making award-winning services accessible to all. By empowering seniors and people with disabilities through accessible technology, Sprint is demonstrating how good technology works as a positive force in society.
Download the Press Release (02/27/2014)
Download the Sponsorship Packet for the Gala
February 10, 2014 3:03 pm
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been redefined as a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairment in social communication and social interaction and restricted behavior (DSM-5, American Psychiatric Association, 2013). From the clinical point of view, ASD is a very complex condition commonly associated with psychiatric, medical, and behavioral comorbidities (e.g. seizure disorder, anxiety, mood and sleep disorders, eating and behavioral problems) which have been referred to as “challenging behaviors” (Durand, 2014).
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and antipsychotic and anticonvulsant mediations have been used extensively to treat the “challenging behaviors” in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (e.g. irritability, impulsive aggressive behaviors, and self-injurious behaviors). Unfortunately, evidence-based research of anticonvulsant, Lithium, and antipsychotic medications is limited (Rajkumar, 2012), and there is no FDA approved medication to treat these behavioral problems in autism.
Beta-adrenergic receptor blockers (Propranolol, Nadolol, and Pindolol) have been used since 1977 in the treatment of violent behaviors in psychiatric patients (Silver, et al. 1999). In particular, Propranolol is a non-selective beta-adrenergic antagonist that reduces sympathetic nervous system activity. Recently, Propranolol has been used successfully to treat impulsivity, aggressive behaviors, hyper-arousal, and self-injurious behaviors in individuals with autism and intellectual disability. The mechanism of action of Propranolol is not clear, but may involve central Beta-adrenergic blockade, peripheral effects on the sympathetic nervous system or serotonergic blockade (Weinstock, 1980). Beta-adrenergic receptors are wildly distributed in different regions in individuals with autism such as frontal, parietal, hippocampus, midbrain etc. Genetic studies have identified several factors linking Beta-adrenergic receptor blockage to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (Lurong and Nguyen, 2013).
According to Bodner and colleagues (2012), in a study, which compared individuals with autism and non-autistic individuals on a working memory test, using Propranolol and the ASD group performed significantly better than the placebo group (non-ASD). It has been hypothesized that Norepinephrine (NE) levels are increased in individuals with autism, which may play a role in cognitive impairment associated with ASD. Recent research evidence suggests that Propranolol in doses (< 520mg/qd) improves impulsive aggressive behaviors, self-injurious behaviors, and some aspects of learning in individuals with autism and intellectual disability (Lurong and Nguyen, 2013; Rajkumar, 2012; Fleminger, et al. 2008; Simeon and Hollander, 2001; Shroeder, et al. 2002.).
At the 2013 Society of Neuroscience Annual Meeting in San Diego, David Beversdorf’s group at the University of Missouri, Columbia, proposed that Propranolol was better than a placebo in enhancing functional connectivity between certain brain regions and in improving verbal fluency, verbal problem-solving, and non-verbal behaviors in individuals with autism (Zamzow, et al., 2013; Beversdorfd, et al. 1999, 2008). In addition, according to Beversdorf and colleagues (2011), Propranolol has some language benefits and performance on tasks involving cognitive flexibility of access to networks (Narayanan, et al. 2010, Hecht, et al. 2014).
Further studies are needed to evaluate the non-genomic mechanisms, neurobiological mechanism of Propranolol in context-specific anxiety, and cognitive flexibility and functional connectivity.
February 6, 2014 10:04 am
The tragic case of Avonte Oquendo prompted Justice Department officials this week to expand a program to help parents obtain tracking devices for children with autism. Avonte, a 14-year-old with autism, was found dead three-months after running away from school. Avonte, who did not speak, was at school in Queens, NY when he ran off on October 4, 2013 at about 12:30 p.m.
The announcement Wednesday means that federal grant funds,which already cover tracking devices for adults with Alzheimers, will also apply to children with autism. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who had requested the funds, said the devices were available immediately for parents who wanted them. Avonte’s Law, which Schumer proposed in November, would authorize federal funds for the purchase of tracking devices as well as training in their use. Each device costs about $85, plus a few dollars in monthly fees, the Senator said, adding that hundreds of families with autistic children already have used privately funded tracking devices.
A 2012 study by the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore found that children between the ages of 4 and 7 with autism were four times more likely to wander away than children of the same age without autism. The study, based on a survey of parents of children with autism, found that 49% of the children had tried to run off at least once after they reached age 4. This same study indicated 56% of parents stating eloping is one of the most stressful behaviors they encounter while caring for their children with autism.
While tracking devices are important, educating and training staff who work with individuals with autism is imperative. Avonte’s wandering behavior is called eloping, which means he left a safe location without permission. Eloping is a potentially dangerous behavior that has led to 22 deaths in just 20 months between 2009 and 2011, according to the National Autism Association.
Some children with autism do not understand the spoken word, therefore may not respond to their name when called. Some children cannot speak without support, so they may not be able to ask for what they want and need without augmentative communication, such as PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) or using sign language . If a child elopes without support, or in the case of using sign language, encounters someone who does not speak the language, it could be incredibly difficult or impossible for the child to communicate any personal information, which would ultimately lead to his/her safe return home.
Many children with autism do not have an age-appropriate understanding or awareness of safety procedures, such as checking for cars before crossing the street, walking within a cross walk or avoiding strangers.
All of these stress the importance of addressing the issues surrounding elopement behaviors. All involved in the care and education of children with autism must be specifically trained in keeping children safe as a means to prevent further tragedy.
Below are some links with helpful information.
The Big Red Safety Box is a resource created by the National Autism Association for The AWAARE (Autism Wandering Awareness Alerts Response and Education) Collaboration.
February 4, 2014 10:55 am
The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised with Follow-Up (M-CHAT-R/F; Robins, Fein, & Barton, 2009) is a 2-stage parent-report screening tool to assess risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). M-CHAT-R is valid for screening toddlers between 16 and 30 months of age.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children receive autism screening at 18 and 24 months of age, and the M-CHAT-R/F is one of the AAP’s recommended tools.
The primary goal of the M-CHAT-R is to maximize sensitivity, meaning to detect as many cases of ASD as possible. Therefore, there is a high false positive rate, meaning that not all children who score at risk will be diagnosed with ASD. To address this, the researchers have developed Follow-Up questions (M-CHAT-R/F). Even with the Follow-Up questions, a significant number of the children who screen positive on the M-CHAT-R will not be diagnosed with ASD; however, these children are at high risk for other developmental disorders or delays, and therefore, evaluation is warranted for any child who screens positive.
The M-CHAT-R/F is available for free download for clinical, research, and educational purposes at www.mchatscreen.com.
January 31, 2014 9:34 am
Hello! My name is Danielle and I am an intern at QSAC’s headquarters in New York City in the Development Department. As a woman on the autism spectrum, I have overcome many things in my life and I am currently involved in getting a Consolidated Self-Directed Services plan through the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). When I first graduated from high school, the thought of living alone never crossed my mind. I was living with my family and longed for more independence, but knew I would need help and resources from others. On my own, I worked with lawyers and self-advocates to establish my Social Security and Medicaid eligibility and researched and selected an appropriate supportive living situation. I learned about my rights and responsibilities as a person with autism.
After many years of living arrangements that were not ideal for me, I finally found something that was almost perfect for me: my own apartment in a nice neighborhood working with staff I liked. I had independence and financial freedom. After a few years of inconsistent staff and some frustration, I have decided to pursue a Consolidated Self-Directed Services plan so I can have more say in my everyday life. With this new plan, I will have the freedom to select my own support staff and choose how I spend my time and money.
Twenty years ago, this type of decision would not have been possible because these types of independent living services did not exist. I am very grateful that I have this decision to make. People with disabilities have choices and can make their own decisions! Even the wrong ones! Find out what services are appropriate and available for you or your loved one, because everyone deserves a fair shot at a happy and fulfilling life.
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Danielle Lazzara is a lifelong New Yorker who is an actively involved self-advocate who works to ensure that individuals with disabilities know their rights and have access to supportive services. She is an intern in QSAC’s Development Department through the JobPath employment training program (ETP).
January 16, 2014 9:43 am
This is a great article from BuzzFeed that I wanted to share. Enjoy!
“A Mom Wrote An Amazing Letter To The Man Who Sat With Her 3-Year-Old Autistic Daughter On An Airplane“
January 13, 2014 8:00 pm
What?! It’s 2014 already?
Although much of our school year is still left, the first five months went so quickly. What better time than January to reflect on what we have done and where we want to go. Setting measurable, attainable goals is essential for any behavior analytic program. For our graduating students this takes on greater urgency. In the Turning 5 year of preschool each benchmark set is our last chance to prepare our students for greater independence and potential opportunities in a less restrictive environment when they leave us. In September, we set two goals for our graduating students: being toilet trained and effective communication. Our definition of effective communication is having a mand repertoire, i.e. telling someone in their environment what his/her needs are. At our first assessment opportunity in September, of our 44 graduating students, 47% of our students were toilet trained, but that means 53% were not. Our student performance in functional communication was better: 72% of our students were able to communicate their most basic needs. Our criterion for success for both of these goals is 100%. We are confident we are going to get there.
How can we be so sure? Because we teach and measure. In our first five months of school we have presented 499,440 instructional opportunities. Our students have mastered 5,951 goals/objectives and our students frequency of mands (requests) have increased from 1,576 week to an all time high of 10,000. That is a six-fold increase. With this amount of success, productivity, and accountability in our first five months we know what we need to do to help our students meet these two goals. By using the tenets of 3CROD (close, continual, contact with relevant outcome data; Bushell & Baer, 1994) we assess the need for learning objectives, teach to those objectives, collect data, analyze data, and adjust our teaching style based on student performance. By adhering to these practices we can apply strategies, tactics and technologies to increase our students’ probability of meeting these important goals. Seven months of our school year are left, we have a lot of work to do! Watch here for our next update.
December 23, 2013 2:28 pm
This is a wonderful holiday read. Enjoy!
Taken from www.autismafter16.com, written by Liane Kupferberg Carter.
Silence is Golden
Every year at Thanksgiving, there comes a moment after dinner when I need to escape.
I should say up front that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I revel in it. But no matter how much fun we are having, no matter how full my heart is with good will and satisfaction and joy, I reach a point when everything becomes too much. An aural assault. I feel an overpowering urge to step outside into the November night air.
Each year I make the same excuse to myself –I just need to shake out the crumbs from the tablecloth—and step onto the front porch. The blast of cold air on my face is bracing. Reviving. Sound falls away and the world goes silent.
This year, as I took in great gulps of wintry cold air, it struck me: This is how Mickey must feel, when he reaches the tipping point of sensory overload and says, “I’ve had enough.”
When Mickey was 8 and Jonathan 13, we flew to Arizona for our niece’s bat mitzvah. Mickey fidgeted but managed to sit through the religious service, even singing along to familiar songs. At the end of the ceremony, we moved across the hall into the banquet room. We slammed up against a wall of thrumming music and flashing lights. Mickey flung himself to the floor and clutched his hands over his ears. People stared. Then they stepped over him.
Embarrassed, I tried to coax him up. He wouldn’t budge. “This isn’t going to work,” my husband Marc said. “I’ll go back to the hotel with him.”
“But your family is all here, I don’t want you to miss out,” I said. “You and Jonathan should stay. I’ll take Mickey back.”
We returned to our spacious, serene suite. I called room service and ordered Mickey’s favorite meal: a burger and fries. After dinner he played with his Game Boy. I read a novel. We were both perfectly happy. The truth? I don’t like loud parties either.
Having a child with these sensitivities opened a window into myself. I always hated crowded rooms. Strobe lights. Roller coasters. I thought it was a character flaw. I didn’t realize it was just the way I was wired.
Just the way he is wired.
“I’ve had enough.” He says it adamantly, often while the rest of us are still having fun. For years, I cajoled. Reasoned. Even bribed him. I wanted him to sit longer at religious services. Stay later at the party. Last through the movie.
Did I have my own agenda? Was it more about my desires than his? Or am I beating myself up too much? Mickey has always resisted anything unfamiliar, whether tasting a vegetable or trying an art class. I believe it’s my job as his parent to expose him to as many new experiences as I can. I want to open the richness of the world to him. When is it okay to push? How hard? When to pull back? It’s an intricate dance.
It has taken me a long time to understand that he doesn’t mean to be difficult or self-absorbed. He is simply advocating for what he needs. Just as I need my moments of respite and retreat, Mickey does too.
Which is a good thing. A marvelous thing, in fact.
Standing there Thanksgiving night, inhaling the cold, restorative air, I shook out more than tablecloth crumbs.