One in 68 Children has Autism

QSAC's blog – News » News

Meet The New Kid On ‘Sesame Street’: Julia, A Muppet With Autism

March 20, 2017 3:00 pm Published by

Sesame Street” just got a whole lot broader with its newest neighbor: Julia, a Muppet with autism.

The little girl Muppet with red hair and a favorite bunny clutched in her hand has been in “Sesame Street’s” online Digital Storybook series since 2015. But she’s making her TV debut surrounded by everybody’s favorite neighborhood gang on HBO and PBS in April… click here to read the rest

Obesity and the Autism Population (more on Mo’s Progress)

December 19, 2016 3:00 pm Published by

A few months have gone by since Mo’s last update…and the ASP is happy to report that he continues to lose weight and exercise like the athlete he has become. Mo has officially lost 73 pounds!

mo11mo12

More than 6 months ago, Mo was assigned a personal trainer through Title Boxing Club Forest Hills, where he has learned to exercise 3-4 times a week. When Mo first began, he had a hard time walking to the train station from the Astoria 38th street ASP (roughly, a 5-7 minute walk). Mo is now walking 3-4 miles on the treadmill with ease. In fact, he participated in QSAC 5k alongside his trainer and ASP Group Leader in October. A huge accomplishment from day one!

 

mo13    mo4

Mo has now gained enough muscle strength to do modified burpees, a difficult exercise, even for trained athletes. Mo has grown to love his exercise routine and continues to self-monitor his caloric intake. He has learned to make appropriate food choices and use portion control. Mo’s demeanor and confidence in himself have improved significantly. He has demonstrated that weight loss is possible, irrespective of a disability. New behaviors and routines can be learned by adapting instructional methods to meet the learner’s needs and providing reinforcement for target responses. Mo often requires visual and model prompts which are quickly faded out in order to learn new exercises.

mo15

Mo’s next milestones will be to reach the 100lb weight loss mark and run the Spartan special heat at Citifield in May 2017!

Obesity and the Autism Population (An update on Mo’s Progress)

August 8, 2016 3:00 pm Published by

A few months ago, the After School program introduced everyone to a young man, affectionately known as Mo. Mo was assigned a personal trainer through Title Boxing Club Forest Hills in order to help lose weight and become physically fit. In addition, the ASP designed a weight loss program to help teach him healthier eating habits, such as portion control and increasing his fruits and vegetables, while decreasing foods with high sugar and saturated fats. Mo began to track the foods he ate with the help of his family and the ASP. Mo has learned to make healthier choices, such as lean proteins and green vegetables. In addition, he has become much more active at the gym. Mo began by working out twice a week and has recently started working out three times a week. He is now able to hold a push up position for 1 minute intervals, he can walk 2 miles on the treadmill without stopping or holding on, and he can lifts weights to name a few things. Mo has now been on his weight loss journey for about 5 months and has lost a total of 48 pounds and 6% of his body fat.

Mo enjoys going to the gym and working on his eating habits; his motivation to work hard is visible and has grown steadily. Mo has become very independent with making appropriate food choices and is independently disciplined.

Below are pictures throughout the last few months. We will continue to track his progress and journey in the months to come.

augmo1

    When Mo lost 35 pounds he proudly held up a 35 pound weight with his trainer to              show how much he had lost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

moaug2

Mo before and after. The shirt and shorts on the left were form fitting when Mo first started. Now they are too big for him

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

moaug3

Mo at his current weight loss…48 pounds down!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unitus Therapy Intelligence

June 27, 2016 3:00 pm Published by

The SEIT department teachers began piloting, Unitus Therapy Intelligence, an Electronic Data Records system that delivers cloud-based curricula, and data collection in May.

This system creates securely backed-up electronic therapy recordsand allows us to eliminate program binders, allowing teaching staff to take data directly on iPads. The system then takes student’s raw data, performs analysis in real-time and produces instant graphs, saving valuable session time. It also allows supervisors to monitor staff and students progress from anywhere at any time and communicate instantly with parents and providers

We hope to expand this program to our other in-home educational programs to meet a variety of educational needs.

 

kdumoulin-blog

Kristen DuMoulin, Ph.D., BCBA, SAS, has been a devoted professional to the field of special education and individuals with autism since 1995. She joined Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC) in 2002 and is currently the Director of Children’s Clinical Services, where she is responsible for managing the clinical and administrative aspects of the Early Intervention (EI), Special Education Itinerant Teachers (SEIT), Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS) as well as the CPSE and OPWDD evaluation programs. She is a permanently certified New York State Special Education Teacher and School Administrator.

Valerie Smaldone to Emcee and Will & Anthony Nunziata to Headline Gala Benefiting Services for more than 2,100 Children and Adults with Autism

May 11, 2016 7:59 pm Published by
Valerie Smaldone
Valerie Smaldone

On Tuesday, June 14, 2016, QSAC (Quality Services for the Autism Community) will host its annual gala benefiting more than 2,100 children and adults with autism. Five-time Billboard Magazine Award winner and noted radio star, Valerie Smaldone will serve as the emcee for the event, which will feature a performance by recording artists and concert stars, Will & Anthony Nunziata.

The event will take place at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City from 6:00PM to 10:00PM. At the event, QSAC will be honoring AT&T, Pratima and Avinash Malhotra and their family, and three members of QSAC’s management (Paul Naranjo, Cory Polshansky, and Lisa A. Veglia).

Will & Anthony
Will & Anthony Nunziata

The event is being chaired by Mark Lacher of Koeppel Auto Group who is serving in memory of his mother, Clara Lacher, who was also a QSAC founder. Koeppel Auto Group is also underwriting this year’s $15,000 cash raffle.

AT&T is being recognized with the 2016 Innovation in Accessibility Award for their Connect Ability Challenge, which was hosted in collaboration with NYU. The goal of the Connect Ability Challenge was to leverage mobile and wireless technologies to improve the lives of people living with disabilities.

Pratima and Avinash Malhotra, and their family, will be honored with QSAC’s Philanthropic Leadership Award for their outstanding service to QSAC. Mrs. Malhotra is a long-time board member of QSAC. The Malhotras will be recognized alongside both of their sons, Kanuj and Chetan.

In recognition of more than 20-years of service to the autism community, Paul Naranjo, Chief Financial Officer, Cory Polshansky, Deputy Executive Director, and Lisa A. Veglia, Deputy Executive Director, will be honored by the organization.

For additional information regarding the event, please visit www.QSAC.com/gala or call (212) 244-5560 ext. 2000. QSAC is also hosting a silent auction, which will run simultaneously online at www.501auctions.com/qsac and is open to the public (gala ticket is not required to bid).

QSAC CFO, Paul Naranjo, To Retire After More Than 20-Years Of Service, Non-Profit Finance Executive Doug Axenfield To Assume Role

April 6, 2016 10:00 am Published by

New York, N.Y. – QSAC’s CFO of more than 20-years, Paul Naranjo, will retire in late September 2016. After an extensive search, Douglas “Doug” Axenfeld will assume the role of CFO after Mr. Naranjo’s retirement.

Over the last two decades, Mr. Naranjo has helped oversee the significant growth that QSAC has undergone throughout New York City and Long Island. When Paul joined the agency in the 1990s, it had an annual budget of a little over $389,000; today, QSAC’s annual budget is more than $70 million. In recognition for his years of service to the organization, and the autism community, Mr. Naranjo will be honored at QSAC’s annual gala on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan (additional details available online at www.qsac.com/gala).

Regarding Paul’s tenure, Gary Maffei, QSAC’s CEO said, “For 20-years, Paul has been an integral member of QSAC’s management team. He has served as a mentor to many of our employees, a friend, and has left an indelible mark on this organization. I know that Paul and his family will continue to be involved with QSAC. We wish him the very best in retirement and thank him for his many years of service. His work and tireless commitment have truly touched the lives of the families we support.”

Doug Axenfeld, an executive with more than two decades of finance experience, will join QSAC as its new CFO. In order to ensure a smooth transition, Mr. Axenfeld will join QSAC in April 2016 and will assume full responsibility for the role upon Paul’s retirement in late September. Mr. Axenfeld joins QSAC after his tenure at FEDCAP Rehabilitation Services where he served as Director of Financial Operations having previously served as Director of Financial Operations for nearly 10-years at YAI. Earlier in his career, Doug served as QSAC’s Controller. He is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo where he received a Bachelor of Science in Economics.

“Drawing on more than 20-years of experience in nonprofit finance, Doug poses significant knowledge regarding state and local funding agencies. We look forward to having Doug join us as our new CFO. We’re confident that he’ll provide the fiscal leadership needed as we continue to grow to meet the needs of the autism community,” said Gary Maffei.

ABOUT QSAC

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. Learn more about QSAC online at www.QSAC.com.

April 2nd – World Autism Awareness Day

April 1, 2016 9:00 am Published by

WAAdayTomorrow, April 2nd is the eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day.
This years theme is “Autism and the 2030 Agenda: Inclusion and Neurodiversity”

Autism and other forms of disability are part of the human experience that contributes to human diversity. As such, the United Nations has emphasized the need to mainstream disability in the Organization’s development agenda. Mainstreaming disability requires an integral approach in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres, so that inequality is not perpetuated.

Disability and persons with disabilities are explicitly referenced in the following goals: 4) Quality Education; 8) Decent Work and Economic Growth; 10) Reduced Inequalities; 11) Sustainable Cities and Communities; and 17) Partnerships for the Goals.

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.

 

kdumoulin-blogKristen DuMoulin, Ph.D., BCBA, SAS, has been a devoted professional to the field of special education and individuals with autism since 1995. She joined Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC) in 2002 and is currently the Director of Children’s Clinical Services, where she is responsible for managing the clinical and administrative aspects of the Early Intervention (EI), Special Education Itinerant Teachers (SEIT), Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS) as well as the CPSE and OPWDD evaluation programs. She is a permanently certified New York State Special Education Teacher and School Administrator.

An Overview of the New York State Alternate Assessment Process

January 18, 2016 3:00 pm Published by

As part of the New York State Testing Program (NYSTP), students in the 3rd, 4th, and 8th grade, as well as High School, must be assessed using standardized assessments. This regulation applies not only to students who participate in the general education curriculum, but also applies to students who receive special education services. For students who receive special education services in New York State, the Committee on Special Education (CSE) makes the determination as to whether a particular student meets the eligibility criteria to participate in the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) instead of participating in the State’s general assessments (Office of State Assessments, 2016).

The NYSAA measures the progress of students with severe cognitive disabilities in achieving the NYS common core p-12 learning standards in English Language Arts (ELA), Math, Science, and Social Studies. For the 2015-2016 school year, New York joined the consortium of states that have contracted with the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation to deliver Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) assessments for ELA and Math (http://www.dynamiclearningmaps.com/newyork). This means that for the 2015-2016 school year, teachers had to complete traditional assessments for Science and Social Studies, but the ELA and Math assessments are to be administered via a computer based platform (KITE Suite), starting in the Spring of 2016. The purpose of the NYSAA is to ensure the expectation that students with disabilities continue to progress from year to year. The NYSAA aims to test the progress of students with disabilities in relation to the NYS common core standards.

What does this all mean for us at the QSAC Day School? All of our students at the QSAC Day School participate in the New York State Alternate Assessments as mandated by each student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Due to the changes made to the NYSAA starting with the 2015-2016 school year, the preparation and administration process for the NYSAA is different from previous years. During the month of December, the students that were to be assessed were identified and the relevant materials were reviewed. During the month of January, teachers diligently worked on selecting the appropriate Alternate Grade Level Indicators (AGLIs) in Science and Social Studies for their students, creating activities to assess the AGLIs, and planning the evidence to be included for each standard. Teachers then met several times to review and provide feedback to each other regarding the activities and tasks selected and created for each of their students. Once the review was completed, the teachers conducted baseline administrations. After baseline data were collected, the teachers taught the target tasks to the students using their typical teaching methods, and then conducted the final administration between 2/2/16-2/5/16 to determine whether learning occurred. After the final administration was completed, teachers compiled all of the documents for each student into a portfolio which the NYSAA refers to as a datafolio. Teachers then participated in several collegial reviews to review each other’s datafolios to ensure the accuracy of their scoring.

Although at times the AGLIs and the assessment tasks provided by the state are not necessarily appropriate for our students, through being persistent, working diligently, individualizing, and differentiating instructional tasks, our teachers at the Day School were able to successfully administer the Science and Social Studies assessments to their students. In the upcoming months, teachers will start preparing to administer the Math and ELA alternate assessments to their students via KITE Suite. Following the completion of these assessments, we then wait to receive our assessment results!

 

Cynthia_Pic_Blog

 

 

Cynthia Martinez, M.S., M.S. Ed., SBL, ABA Coordinator, QSAC Day School has been with QSAC since 2007.  She started out as a Medicaid Service Coordinator, then transferred to the Day School where she was a classroom teacher for 4 and a half years.  Cynthia has been at her current position as an ABA Coordinator since 2013.  Cynthia has a Master’s degree in Special Education from The City College of New York and a Master’s degree in School Building Leadership from Touro College.

 

Reference:

New York State Office of State Assessments. (2016). New York State Alternate Assessment

(NYSAA). Retrieved from http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/nysaa/

Apple’s ResearchKit is branching into autism research

October 12, 2015 3:00 pm Published by

ResearchKit is an open source framework introduced by Apple that allows researchers and developers to create powerful apps for medical research. Most research is limited to who can be recruited based on geographic locations. By expanding clinical trials to a mobile device, researchers can reach a more diverse population of participants and expand the scope of their studies.

 

Researchers at Duke University have developed a free IOS app called, Autism & Beyond app to learn more about autism in young children living around the world. According to its iTunes description, “Autism & Beyond is a groundbreaking new study of childhood mental health powered by Apple’s ResearchKit. The study aims to test new video technology that can analyze a child’s emotion and behavior. We hope that this technology may one day be used to screen young children in their homes for autism and mental health challenges, such as anxiety or tantrums. We want parents to have tools that will help them understand their children and find help if they need it.”

 

The Autism & Beyond app is a six-month study, with tests administered at the beginning, three months and six months. Each test takes about 20 minutes to complete. After a guided set of screens that inform users of the purpose of the research and ask their consent to participate and share their data, the app combines questionnaires and short videos to gather information about a child.

 

Researchers are able to map a child’s reaction to approved stimuli to determine their reaction, which can be linked to possible signs of autism. The idea is that they can amass thousands of these reactions as well as potential autism diagnoses to create an app that can assist in recognizing the disorder, which would be particularly valuable in areas with few child psychologists who specialize in autism.

 

kdumoulin-blog

 

Dr. Kristen DuMoulin has been a devoted professional to the field of special education and individuals with autism since 1995. She joined Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC) in 2002 and is currently the Director of Children’s Clinical Services, where she is responsible for managing the clinical and administrative aspects of the Early Intervention (EI), Special Education Itinerant Teachers (SEIT), Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS) as well as the CPSE and OPWDD evaluation programs. She is a permanently certified New York State Special Education Teacher and School Administrator.

QSAC Sibling Support Group Celebrates its 10th Year!

October 5, 2015 3:00 pm Published by

QSAC’s Sibling Support Group entered its tenth year in July of 2015. The program is open to any family with a child on the autism spectrum. There is a Support Group for siblings, Respite supervised by QSAC staff trained in ABA, as well as an optional Parent Support Group. The program was a 5 week experience, held once a week in the evenings at the QSAC Preschool.

QSAC’s team of facilitators included: to Dita DeSena, Director of After School, Rocio Chavez, Assistant Director of After School, Nevena Savic, Assistant Director of Family Education and Training, Ana Lopez, Staff Trainer, and , Madelyn Wolfin, Social Work Coordinator.

QSAC’s Sibling Support Group provided an opportunity for brothers and sisters of children with autism to obtain peer support and education within a recreational atmosphere. The 2015 siblings ranged in age from 5 to 14 years old, and met for a series of 5 weeks. The children were grouped according to their age, and participated in fun and creative small group exercises. Each meeting was focused on a different theme, designed to elicit an open expression of feelings in a warm, non judgmental environment.

While the children were engaged in Sibling Group and Respite, the parents were invited to participate in a Support Group as well. Although the program was pleased to welcome several new families, a considerable number of participants continue to return year after year. The 2015 Sibling Support Program had 48 participants in total, with 16 children attending the Sibling Support Group, 13 children in Respite, and 19 parents in the Parent Support Group.

 

ThUntitled1e final meeting of the summer traditionally ends with a party for all. This “Bring a Dessert Party” is a time where parents and children join together to eat and share their experiences. It was fun and rewarding for everyone involved. In response to the requests of the participants, QSAC will be offering a series of sibling special events throughout the year. The first meeting is scheduled to be held on Wednesday October 21, 2015 at 6:30PM at the QSAC Preschool in Douglaston. Feel free to contact Madelyn Wolfin at (718) 728-8476 x 1519 or Mwolfin@qsac.com for further information.

A special thanks to all of the families who participated in the program. They were instrumental to the program’s success, and we look forward to many rewarding years together in the future!

 

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.