One in 68 Children has Autism

QSAC's blog – 2014 – January » 2014 » January

A Self-Advocate’s Story

January 31, 2014 9:34 am Published by

Danielle LazzaraHello! 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).

Progress in the Preschool: What the data say…

January 13, 2014 8:00 pm Published by

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.


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.