January 26, 2015 3:00 pm Published by Rocio E. Chavez, MA., MSEd., LBA
On January 20th, 2015 the Manhattan Social Skills Group (SSG) were invited to the Barrymore Theater to meet with the cast of The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time. They were also presented with, and accepted, a donation on behalf of QSAC from Broadway Cares. This was a very memorable experience for the students and they were so excited to be a part of this event. The SSG students previously provided technical assistance for the play in June 2014, where they had the opportunity to discuss life with autism.
When they arrived at the theater, they were ushered in by Benjamin Klein (associate director) and were allowed to sit in the theater before the audience members arrived. The SSG students were incredibly happy to be the only ones in the theater and witness, as one participant put it, “where the magic happens”. As they sat and waited for Broadway Cares to arrive, they chatted with Benjamin about what they were currently doing and events which had occurred since the last time Benjamin met with the them (in September, after viewing the show during the premiere week).
During this time, the cast members began to enter the theater to rehearse parts of the show which included stunts. When the boys saw Alexander Sharp (who plays Christopher) they immediately lit up and were thrilled to see him again (they also met with him after viewing the show during the premiere week in September). Alexander proceeded on to the stage with some of the other cast members, while Francesca Faridany (who plays Siobhan) approached the students to greet them and welcome them back to the theater. The students enjoyed a few minutes of watching the cast rehearse, and were in admiration when they saw Alexander perform some of the stunts, where he was lifted into the air. At this time, Broadway Cares arrived and the students were asked to step on stage with the cast members in order to accept their generous donation on behalf of QSAC. The students were delighted to feel part of the cast and to be able to set foot on stage. Francesca presented the donation and expressed how happy the entire cast was to have been able to fundraise on behalf of QSAC.
After photos were taken with the SSG students and cast members, Alexander approached the students to also catch up on what they had been doing since the last time he saw them (Alexander visited the SSG in June 2014). The students did great discussing their lives and progress in the last few months. They also thanked everyone for the wonderful opportunity and generous donation which they accepted.
The students said their goodbyes and could not believe the experience they had just been a part of. Their smiles stretched from ear to ear and words cannot fully describe the happiness which emanated from each student.
January 19, 2015 3:00 pm Published by Nevena Savic, MA, BCBA
The task of searching for wandering or lost individuals with Autism and other developmental and cognitive conditions is a serious responsibility. Without powerful procedures and devices, searches usually involve a large amount of people and expenses. More importantly, because time is so essential in this matter, every minute lost increases the risk of dreadful consequences.
The primary mission of Project Lifesaver is to provide prompt response to save lives, prevent injuries and bring people safely back home. Project Lifesaver combines state of the art radio technology and a highly trained Deputy Sheriff team. Project Lifesaver users wear a personalized transmitter bracelet which every second emits a tracking signal.
QSAC will be hosting a presentation by The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office for parents who would like to learn more about this device. Project Lifesaver is currently available in Suffolk County but coming soon to other NYS jurisdictions. The date of the presentation is still to be determined. Stay tuned!
January 12, 2015 3:30 pm Published by Rachel La Piana, MSEd, BCBA
QSAC has begun Autismedu; a program funded and designed for staff training related to ABA in the public school system of NYC. We have been able to utilize the BST (Behavior Skills Training) model to train direct teaching staff and other persons in the field of education who work with individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. Although the training program offers a multitude of topics associated with the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, the trainings are rather individualized to the specific needs of each school participating in the training process.
This comprehensive training initiative is unlike anything that has been offered at QSAC before and is notably different than any other professional development series currently available in the public schools. In accordance with the three- step BST model, training phases include: (1) instruction, (2) model, (3) rehearsal and feedback. For those schools partaking in the training process, the ABA training coordinator conducts an initial assessment of the staff training needs per school district and works to plan a curriculum for the training series. The individual trainings are then conducted and subsequent site visits are scheduled to ensure success and to provide supportive feedback.
Although the aim of the Autismedu program is to be more of a pyramidal training model, in which the higher level educators would be able to effectively train their direct care staff; the current training model offers invitation to any person wishing to participate and enhance their professional skill set. Autismedu allows individuals the opportunity for learning relevant to their existing and/or potential vocational circumstances and teaches how to apply what they have learned to their everyday (working) life.
To date, there are a number of District 75 and community schools who have begun the training process. As QSAC is a behavior analytic program, incorporated in the training are pretests/ posttests, and overall evaluations completed by each participant. Results of the exams and evaluations are reviewed and quantified for further evaluation of training efficacy.
The timeframe for the initial stage of the training spans from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015. Participating schools will also be able to continue the training program through June 2017. We at QSAC are hopeful that the word is spreading and increasing number of schools will choose to participate. By virtue of this training initiative, we are able to bring an increased amount of awareness to autism and Applied Behavior Analysis.