May 19, 2014 11:24 am
On Saturday, May 31st in NYC, the Sprout Film Festival will be presenting an autism-friendly screening of 7 short films featuring people on the autism spectrum.
The program, ON THE SPECTRUM, will take place at 2:00pm on Saturday, May 31st at the SVA Theatre, located at 333 West 23rd Street in NYC.
The following are trailers of some of the films in this program:
Stephen Wiltshire: https://vimeo.com/91734706#at=0
For the Love of Dogs: https://vimeo.com/91729005#at=0
Tommy! The Dreams I Keep Inside Me: https://vimeo.com/91737466#at=0
For the complete schedule of films and programs in the festival please visit: http://gosprout.org/film-festival/film-guide/
May 14, 2014 10:33 am
As a clinician who works every day with parents of children with autism, I see and hear how hard it is for parents to deal with the stress of raising a child with autism. When it is hard for their son or daughter to start something new, learn a social interaction, or communicate an emotion effectively, they are there through it all. Through all the trials and tribulations, what I see and hear most, is that their child is their biggest pride and joy. Even on the hardest of days, they smile because of them.
Parents of children with autism support each other, especially the moms, who are often the primary caretakers. They are a community of many mothers coming together as one. They discuss many aspects of their lives, drawing from their common experience as mothers, those caring for children on the autism spectrum.
To all the moms who have children with autism, you inspire me! Your resilience and coping skills, your love, devotion and commitment to your child’s progress is truly something to be admired.
Below is a picture from our Long Island Sibling Support Group. They created cards and candy to share with their moms and had a great time doing so.
Happy Mother’s Day!
May 5, 2014 10:59 am
When I was younger all of my behaviors were due to the stress around me. Today when I don’t manage things effectively I become stressed out and confused. My environment then becomes an issue which can be both good and bad. During those times it’s as if my mind goes blank and I have difficulty concentrating. This is why structure is an important factor in my life. I work best when my schedule is planned out and I manage to abide by it. Having a place to relax and just sit and think can be helpful. There are some things that I do that can relieve my stress and could help you relieve yours too.
Having a sense of humor is important because it enables one to laugh at things instead of being sad about them. Noticing your breathing is also quite important. Writing your feelings down can be a way to get things off of your chest instead of holding them inside. Listening to music allows you to escape from your reality. Getting your rest is essential. Taking breaks and naps can be a way for your body to relax.
Our seven senses and sensory overload
It is important to be aware of all of your senses. It is also important to know when your senses are being overloaded and how this affects your body. We are all born with seven senses: Sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, balance ( vestibular), and body awareness (proprioception). People with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be over-sensitive as well as under-sensitive in all of these areas. There are some ways that can really help an individual experiencing this. The three points to remember are :
1. be aware: look at the environment to see if it is creating difficulties for people with an ASD. Can you change anything?
2. be creative: think of some positive sensory experiences
3. be prepared: tell people with an ASD about possible sensory stimuli they may experience in different environments.
Researching is also important so that you can be aware of new treatments for sensory overload and stress. Watching videos on Youtube showcasing other people who also have ASD has been very helpful. It shows that you are not alone in your experiences and that if we share our experiences, we will be able to help each other more effectively.
- – -
Danielle Lazzara serves as the Development Assistant in QSAC’s Development Department. In her role, she makes calls to parents and supporters about upcoming QSAC events. In addition, Ms. Lazzara works closely with QSAC’s special events team on soliciting items for our annual silent auction. As a woman on the autism spectrum, she is an active self-advocate for the autism community having presented at an array of community-based events including QSAC’s Bridges to Transition on April 2, 2014.
April 24, 2014 10:31 am
L to R: Jimmy Bozza of Koeppel Subaru, Joseph Amodeo (QSAC’s Director of Development), and Gary Maffei (QSAC’s Executive Director)
Koeppel Subaru in Queens and Subaru’s corporate office have donated nearly $7,000 to support QSAC’s programs for the autism community. Koeppel Subaru selected QSAC as a local charity to benefit from Subaru’s Share the Love Event — a nationwide program that allows car buyers to designate $250 to one of the event’s partner charities.
Regarding the donation, Gary A. Maffei, QSAC’s executive director said:
“Subaru’s Share the Love event and Koeppel Subaru’s generosity have had a tremendous impact on QSAC’s programs for the autism community. With the help of Subaru, we are able to ensure that children and adults with autism have access to much-needed programs and supports to enable them to achieve greater independence. We are grateful for Koeppel Subaru’s support of QSAC and for Subaru’s longstanding commitment to corporate social responsibility. Both Subaru and the Koeppel Auto Group are powerful examples of what’s possible when companies and nonprofits work together to touch the lives of those most in need.”
The check was presented to QSAC’s executive director by Koeppel Subaru’s manager, Jimmy Bozza.
April 22, 2014 9:44 am
By Catherine Falleo, M.S.Ed., SAS, SDA, and Anya K. Silver, M.A., BCBA
For typical developing children, the process of reaching independence in adulthood seems to come naturally. However, this is not so for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As children with an ASD develop and grow into adults with an ASD, the idea of college or job training, a career, and living on their own comes with an overabundance of uncertainty. For many individuals with an ASD, they do acquire and demonstrate a wide range of skills, but often during transitioning to adulthood, when levels of support begin to fade and independent use of these skills is expected, generalization of skills becomes challenging. Independent functioning may be difficult for adults with an ASD due to the core deficits of the disability.
Adults with an ASD, in order to achieve independence, should develop the necessary skills and supports to be advocates of their own lives and to be free to make things happen for themselves without an inappropriate amount of assistance from others. Achieving this requires a strong adaptive behavior repertoire. These are the daily living skills that most typical individuals seem to learn naturally, but must be systematically taught to many individuals with an ASD. The term adaptive behavior refers to the skills or abilities that people need to function independently at home and in the community and includes everything from interacting and communicating with other people to shopping, budgeting, cleaning, eating, dressing and grooming, following directions, completing tasks, getting to work on time, reading, computation, being responsible for oneself, and becoming financially independent. Reaching true independence for adults with an ASD means developing meaningful friendships, being competitively employed, and living independently.
QSAC has four Day Habilitation (DH) Programs and three Day Habilitation (DH) WOW (Without Walls) Programs. Developing meaningful friendships for our consumers is an essential aspect across all of our programs. Our goal is to foster friendships among the consumers we serve as well as their ability to develop new friendships in their communities.
We have assisted our consumers in developing several social groups based on their common interests, passions, hobbies, and experiences. We facilitate a monthly Gamers Club where consumers across all of our DH programs who have shown an interest in gaming come together to share games while also playing games and comparing strategies together. The supervisors of the program work collaboratively with the staff and consumers in developing the monthly Gamers Club agenda so to ensure that it incorporates important social, communication, and adaptive skills throughout the event.
Another development has been the Spa/Wellness Club for our female consumers across programs who have shown an interest in the area of beauty, specifically with regards to hair, nails, makeup and fashion. Some consumers are interested in learning how to apply makeup while others specifically want to create their own fashion designs. The supervisors of the program work collaboratively with the team to incorporate into the Spa/Wellness Club agenda the opportunity to work on health awareness, specifically exercise and nutrition.
Additionally, due to our large number of comic book enthusiasts and those interested in anime, a Comic Book Club was developed. The supervisors of the program worked collaboratively with the staff and consumers to incorporate within the monthly agenda topics such as character discussions, character drawings, and comprehension of material read. In addition to our social clubs, our consumers participate in talent shows where they get to showcase their wonderful abilities from singing to dancing to stand up comedy, which offers the opportunity for our consumers to cheer on their friends, and for some, learn to be supportive of others.
In addition to developing meaningful friendships we are also committed to providing opportunities for our consumers to prepare for work environments and become competitively employed. For many of our consumers, we are providing formal curriculum programming to prepare them for these environments. Some of the program goals our staff are assisting our consumers with are within the areas of vocational tasks, schedule following, clerical skills, computer data entry, appropriate social behavior in the community, problem solving, communication skills, behavioral self-monitoring skills, self-care skills, budgeting, completing work applications, travel skills, and cleaning. Four days per week our consumers have the opportunity to generalize these skills to a vocational setting in the community. Some of our volunteer training sites include but are not limited to clothing stores, shoe stores, furniture stores, pharmacy/drug stores, preschools, colleges/universities, pet stores, senior centers, supermarkets, churches/community centers, non-profit organizations, book stores, food carts, and preparing food/deliveries and office/clerical environments. We have the opportunity to observe our consumers in these settings and further develop and enhance their skills by addressing any areas that require further development and practice by providing on the job support, discussing areas of skill development with the consumer, their family, and team of professionals, so that goals can be modified and future goals developed.
Lastly our adult programs are committed to further developing the skills of our consumers to be able to live independently. We have introduced The Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS)TM by James W. Partington and Michael M. Mueller to our program. The AFLS is an assessment tool, curriculum guide, and skills tracking system. It provides information regarding a learner’s skill set and provides a curriculum guide that can serve as a basis for developing learning objectives. We use the AFLS with our consumers at DH to assess skill levels and develop functional, practical, and essential skills of everyday life. The domains covered within this guide are basic living skills, home skills, community participation skills, and school skills. The types of goals our staff have generated for our consumers to strengthen living independently include but are not limited to: dressing, toileting, grooming, bathing, health, safety and first aid, preparing meals, leisure, cooking, learning to physically navigate safely around sidewalks and streets, safety signs, strangers/people encountered while walking or while being transported in the community, basic mobility, shopping, money management, phone use, time, social awareness, and manners.
Independent functioning may be difficult for adults with an ASD due to the core deficits of the disability, however, reducing their dependence on assistance will lead to greater independent functioning and greater levels of social acceptance within the community.
About the Authors: Catherine Falleo M.S.Ed., SAS, SDA, serves as the Director of Clinical Services for QSAC’s Day Habilitation Programs; she can be reached at email@example.com. Anya K. Silver, MA, BCBA, serves as the Assistant Clinical Director for QSAC’s Day Habilitation Programs; she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in QSAC’s print newsletter for Spring 2014.
April 18, 2014 10:34 am
The New York State Dental Foundation’s mission aims to spread smiles throughout New York State by helping to meet the oral health needs of those most in need. Over the winter the New York State Dental Foundation, along with support from Dr. Scott Firestone, helped with facilitating the donation of a dental chair for QSAC’s Day School in Queens. The dental chair will serve as a simulated learning experience for the students at the Day School. By sitting in the chair and experiencing the dental lamp, students will be desensitized to the dental office setting, so as to be ready for their next dental appointment.
“QSAC is very grateful for the generous support of the New York State Dental Foundation and Dr. Scott Firestone. With their combined efforts, we have a dental chair that will allow us to provide a unique hands-on learning experience for our students,” said Lisa Veglia, QSAC’s deputy executive director.
Laura Leon, the executive director of the New York State Dental Foundation said, “The Foundation exists to improve the oral health of all New Yorkers, but clearly, there are some among our population whose needs are greater. Among those are individuals who have special needs. Our most vulnerable citizens need advocates like QSAC to secure basic care that many of us take for granted. The Board of the New York State Dental Foundation applauds the work being done by QSAC, and we are very grateful to have had the opportunity to assist in this donation.”
April 15, 2014 11:31 am
Over the past year, QSAC has been fortunate to partner with the Blue Hill Troupe (BHT) as their 2013-2014 charity. As a part of this partnership, the Troupe generously donates the net proceeds from their season to their charity partner. In fact, for more than 90-years, the Troupe has been producing first-rate productions throughout New York City to benefit community-based organizations.
Whether you joined us for their fall production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” or for their recent production of “Ruddigore,” both were terrific! On behalf of QSAC and the families we serve, I want to extend a special thank you to the Troupe for their commitment to our work in the community. Their generosity will have a direct impact on our efforts to increase access to educational technology for children and adults with autism participating in QSAC’s programs and services.
As the Troupe enters its 91st year of service to New Yorkers in need, I hope you’ll join me in thanking them for their tremendous commitment to our community. Their dedication of time, talent, and treasure is truly inspiring. You can joining me in congratulating the Troupe on another successful season while thanking them for their support by visiting them on Facebook or Twitter and leaving a comment or tweeting a short “thank you.”
Partnerships with organizations like the Blue Hill Troupe enrich our programs and the lives of the children and adults we serve. These partnerships remind us that together we can achieve great things.
Gary Maffei, M.P.A.
Executive Director and CEO
April 8, 2014 11:42 am
Yesterday, Monday, April 7, Paul Halvatzis, a QSAC parent and board member, alongside Joseph Amodeo, QSAC’s Director of Development and Strategy, participated in an interview on NBC 4 New York with Roseanne Colletti. The interview focused on the impact of QSAC’s programs and services for children and adults with autism throughout New York City and Long Island. You can watch the interview online by clicking here.
March 27, 2014 3:26 pm
Earlier today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that autism diagnosis rates had climbed 30% over the past two years from 1 in 88, to 1 in 68 schoolchildren. The report issued by the CDC also mentioned that diagnosis rates among boys is now 1 in 42 boys compared to the earlier statistic of 1 in 54 boys.
With today’s news, I wanted to take a moment to share with you an article from CNN regarding the CDC’s new report: “CDC: 1 in 68 U.S. children has autism.”
As we reflect on the CDC’s new report, please know that QSAC has programs and services for families in need of support. In fact, for more than 36 years we have been providing person-centered educational, residential, habilitation, and support services for children and adults with autism throughout New York City and Long Island. In light of the CDC’s recent report, it’s clear that our mission is more important now than ever before.
If you know of a friend or family member who may be seeking services or supports, please encourage them to visit the “Our Resources” section of QSAC’s website to learn more about our support groups, parent trainings, and other community-based programs.
With the CDC’s new report, I hope you’ll join me and others in expressing the continued need for critical programs and services to support the autism community. As diagnosis rates continue to rise, so too will the need for support services.
Thank you again for your support of QSAC and our programs for the autism community.
March 26, 2014 1:02 pm
An enterprising crew from the Bronx Day-Hab has started up their very own business!
Members of the Doggy Delights team began from scratch and have built a thriving dog biscuit company. The team bakes the biscuits on site using fresh ingredients and has marketed their product to members of the QSAC community.
Please support our efforts and give your dog a delicious peanut buttery treat! To place an order, contact Courtney Johnson at (718) 728-8476, ext. 1800. (Note: delivery/ pick-up will be arranged depending on location- all bags are $3.00, payment is COD/ COP).