One in 68 Children has Autism

QSAC's blog – 2012 – August » 2012 » August

PIMCO Beautifies QSAC Day School During ‘Global Week of Volunteering’

August 8, 2012 3:56 pm Published by

In addition to hosting our students for an “artist for a day” workshop, nearly 20 volunteers from PIMCO traveled to QSAC’s Day School on Friday, August 3 to assist with a beautification project. The volunteers assembled new benches and flower boxes, painted hallways, and planted. The beautification project is already having an immediate impact on the school, with many students enjoying the new benches and flowers.

We’d like to once again thank PIMCO and its employees for their generous support. You can learn more about the PIMCO Foundation on their web site.

PIMCO Foundation Hosts QSAC Students for “Artist for a Day” Event

August 6, 2012 4:48 pm Published by
QSAC was honored to be a part of the PIMCO Foundation’s 2012 Global Week of Volunteering. Each year, more than 900 PIMCO employees volunteer at projects around the world by working with nonprofit partners. This year, QSAC collaborated with the foundation on two volunteer projects for PIMCO employees in New York City.
On Friday, July 27, 25 students from QSAC’s Day School visited PIMCO’s offices in Manhattan for an “artist for a day” workshop. At this event, 10 PIMCO volunteers worked with the students on painting in the style of Vincent Van Gogh as well as a mask-making project. The workshop was led by staff from the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.
QSAC is truly grateful for the generous support of PIMCO and their employees. You can learn more about the PIMCO Foundation on their web site.

Divorce and the Special Needs Child [Guest Blog]

August 6, 2012 3:48 pm Published by

by Andrew M. Cohen, Esq.

It is estimated that approximately half of all marriages end in divorce. The statistics are even more daunting when the couple has a child with special needs. The reasons for this are self-evident: parents are often overwhelmed by their circumstance, and/or they neglect their relationship in attempting to meet the needs of their child. Once the marriage has ended, it is important that the parents, their attorneys and their financial advisors have a full understanding of the complex nature of “co-parenting” a special needs child after the divorce has been finalized.
While custodial rights and visitation schedules remain key components to any divorce litigation, for couples that are going their separate ways and have a child or children with special needs, additional care and planning need to be given to other areas as well. For younger children, this means having an agreement pertaining to special education issues, such as how to best handle an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and/or finance the costs and expenses of education evaluations, advocates or attorneys. For older children, preparing for their transition out of the education realm should include consideration of employment or life skills programs, living arrangements and Guardianship (petitioning a court to permit parents to continue to make legal, financial and/or medical decisions for the child from that child’s eighteenth birthday and beyond). These are all issues that must be figured out in a cogent and thoughtful manner.

For many children with disabilities, reliance on means based government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid are crucial for their ongoing care. Divorcing parents and their family law attorneys must be cognizant of the fact that child support – paid as a monthly income payment to the custodial parent – can have a detrimental impact on the child’s ability to continue to receive his or her public benefits. Alternative strategies should be contemplated to preserve these important benefits. Creative negotiations to have a non-custodial parent pay certain bills and/or expenses in lieu of providing child support income can be considered. Another commonly used technique to preserve and protect government benefits are trusts: a First Party (self-settled) Supplemental Needs Trust or a pooled trust to “shelter” the child support income.
As a final matter, formulating a new estate plan after separation is crucial. All families that have a child with a disability require a specialized estate plan to insure proper and adequate protection of their family members’ financial future, but for a single parent, such planning is even more important. A single parent without a Will is subject to the state’s intestacy laws, which typically provides that the child or children receive everything. Furthermore, a Will (or life insurance policy and/or retirement account which pass outside the Will) which is not properly directed to a Supplemental Needs trust for the special child also jeopardizes that individual’s eligibility for benefits and financial security.
Divorce is difficult for any family, but for divorcing parents who need to continue to “co-parent” their child with a disability, it is crucial that they take the appropriate steps and make the necessary accommodations to meet the needs of their fractured family.

Andrew is the principal of the Law Offices of Andrew M. Cohen located in Manhattan and Garden City, and he is the father of three daughters, one of whom has multiple disabilities and graces the cover of his business brochure. His practice focuses on Trusts & Estates and Elderlaw, with an emphasis on planning for families with a disabled child. Andrew is a charter member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners, a national organization of attorneys who are dedicated to providing high quality legal services to the disabled community and, in May 2010, he was selected by Exceptional Parent magazine to receive its Maxwell J. Schleifer Distinguished Service Award. Andrew was added to the Long Island Board of Directors of Easter Seals New York in February 2011 and he was an advisor to Parents magazine for its March 2011 commentary on special needs planning. Andrew believes that it is crucial for parents of individuals with special needs to make all of the arrangements necessary to protect and provide for each family member, and he is a frequent lecturer on this topic. Visit www.amcohenlaw.com for additional information about Andrew and his practice.

Voice [Guest Blog]

August 6, 2012 12:00 pm Published by

by Jeff Stimpson, QSAC Parent

I’ve hauled Ned and Alex out for a Sunday afternoon. The streets of Manhattan are yellow, empty and hot. I steer the guys toward the shade, figuring this is the kind of street-smarts a good dad imparts. “Shade, guys. Hug the shade. Water’s in Alex’s backpack.” Ned’s wobbly. Alex walks and walks and then breaks into bobs and weaves. I wish he wouldn’t do that. I’m sure he wishes he was home with his iPad. 

“Michael’s?” says Alex, who’s 14 and PDD-NOS. Ned is his younger brother. Michael’s is the crafts store nearby — and despite autism Alex sure knows it’s nearby — where they sell the plastic animals he always and always seems to want. “Yes, Alex, we’ll go to Michael’s as soon as we go to the sporting goods store to buy Ned his baseball glove.” Ned doesn’t have a baseball glove. I had one by Ned’s age. 

“Michael’s?” 

In Michael’s Alex yanks my arm toward the aisle of plastic animals. Thing is, he got a plastic bear yesterday. Tomorrow, while Ned is at baseball, the plan calls for me and Alex to hit clothing stores to find the right cut of narrow pants and shorts that my wife Jill insists — and I agree — that he needs to look anywhere near, God let’s face it, normal. I think yet another plastic animal in our house would be a good reward for good behavior during clothes shopping, and tell Alex so.
“Fireman?” Alex says, holding up a $4 plastic fireman. I thought they just had animals.
“No, Alex. Tomorrow. If you’re good while we’re clothes shopping.”
“Tomorrow…” Alex says. Does repeating words means he’s moving ahead? We bob around this retail environment for a while: Alex fiddles with the idea of making me buy a wooden letter; Ned finds a wooden cruxifix and thinks you drive into the vampire’s heart to kill him. I explain that no, you hold it up and keep the vampire away. I tried to show Ned “The Night Stalker” once. Ned didn’t seem interested. “Alex, let’s go!” 

“Dad,” says Ned, “how about some clam chowder?” He’s referring to the pot of stuff at the next-door Whole Foods. I’m ashamed to admit it as a born New-Englander, but what they call chowder at this next-door retail environment isn’t totally repugnant. “Okay, Ned.” So we go next door into the air conditioning and scoop out chowder. They even have a place to sit down to eat it. “Ned, go find us a seat while I pay.” 

He does. I find him. Four chairs, three of us. In a normal life, that would be enough. “Nooooo!” says Alex.”Nooooo!” I don’t know if it’s the heat or the backpack or that he will eat nothing we eat, but he will not sit down. Ned has his little cup of chowder — I’ve taught him to like the stuff — and I have my big bowl and neither matters to Alex. I tell him to sit down and he bites his own arm. 

“Alex, sit down! I want to eat my lunch!” Doesn’t everyone want to eat their lunch? Isn’t everyone entitled to eat their lunch? “Nooooo!” He bites. He squats on the floor. I feel and yet don’t feel the stares of the people at the table behind us. “Alex, I just want to eat my lunch!” 

Alex doesn’t do lunch. Haven’t I learned the simpliest lesson yet? I haul him outside. He squats on the sidewalk and when I order him to stand up he does and then squats down on the sidewalk again almost immediately. Ned appears. “Alex,” Ned says, “what do you want? Do you want the iPad? The iPad isn’t here. If you want the iPad we have to go home. You have to go home if you want the iPad.”

I’m not sure I can reach Alex anymore. I’ll know Alex 30 years if I’m lucky (at times I feel like I’ll know him 40 years if I’m not). Ned may know him for 70 years, if the love and caring doesn’t evaporate some afternoon on the floor of a place like Whole Foods.
You have to go home if you want the iPad. That is the voice of a parent.
Jeff Stimpson lives in New York with his wife Jill and two sons. He is the author of Alex: The Fathering of a Preemie and Alex the Boy: Episodes From a Family’s Life With Autism (both available on Amazon). He maintains a blog about his family at jeffslife.tripod.com/alextheboy, and is a frequent contributor to various sites and publications on special-needs parenting, such as Autism-Asperger’s Digest, Autism Spectrum News, the Lostandtired blog, The Autism Society news blog, and An Anthology of Disability Literature (available on Amazon). He can also be found on LinkedIn and on Twitter @Jeffslife.

Autism and Adaptive Behavior Skills

August 6, 2012 11:35 am Published by

The majority of individuals with autism have cognitive disabilities and marked deficits in adaptive living skills (ALS) such as Personal Living Skills, home Living Skills, Community Living Skills, and Employment Skills.

According to Matson and colleagues (2012), in consequence to these deficits in cognitive functioning and communication skills, employment programs have been neglected for individuals with autism. However, employment can be a reachable goal for individuals with autism through Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA techniques include breaking complex skills into steps, shadowing the workers movement, and using physical guidance, interruption of incorrect actions, vocal and gestural prompts, and reinforcement systems. Studies have shown that ABA can be applied to empower autistic individuals in performing a job, and may improve their cognitive skills (Garcia-Villamisar and Hughes, 2007).

We should encourage the development of more enrichment programs such as supported employment trainings to enhance the level of independence of our autistic population.

ABOUT US

QSAC is a New York City and Long Island based nonprofit that supports children and adults with autism, together with their families, in achieving greater independence, realizing their future potential, and contributing to their communities in a meaningful way by offering person-centered services.

QSAC pursues this mission through direct services that provide a supportive and individualized setting for children and adults with autism to improve their communication, socialization, academic, and functional skills.