Sunday, February 14, 2010

Special Diets for Autism Fair

Beth Monterosso, Mary Hernandez, and Sabeeha Rehman at NAA NYM Booth

See Photo Album

On Feb. 9, NAA NY Metro's Staten Island branch organized a Special Diets for Autism Resource Fair sponsored by the PTA of PS 37R on Staten Island.

Mary Hernandez, NAA New York Metro's liaison for the Staten Island branch, was instrumental in organizing the event, making the arrangements, and involving and integrating the chapter's activities with that of PS 37 and PATH. Mary contacted all the merchants who came to provide samples and information about their products. Participating vendors displayed their wares and offer free samples of their foods to the visitors who stopped by. Six gift certificates from local merchants were given out as door prizes and many offered discount coupons.

NAA New York Metro had a booth and had the opportunity to highlight the services that the chapter brings to families, educators and caregivers affected by ASD. The PATH Family center gave a presentation on its new facility where it provides recreational, nutritional, and educational services, as well as biomedical counseling.

Mary had prepared give-aways - brown bags packed with donated goodies from health-food vendors, individually packaged. Attendees took home a nicely packaged gift-bag of goodies for their children to savor.

Many thanks to PS 37R for the opportunity and for hosting the event.

Great job, Mary.

Sabeeha Rehman

Monday, February 8, 2010

Research Study: Request for Participation

By: Abbie Connolly

Finding a cure for autism is essential, but it is a long process. I am running a study which may help children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and their families now. My name is Abbie Connolly and I am a doctoral candidate at the City University of New York. The subject of my research is the possible connection between language and behavioral levels of children with ASD and maternal stress and family functioning. I am hoping that my research may help programs develop more effective strategies for parents and families with children on the Spectrum in coping with the symptoms of autism

The participants in my study would be mothers of children with ASD. The children must be between the ages of 6-12 years old. They must be diagnosed with ASD (autism, Asperger's Disorder or PDD-NOS) by a medical doctor, neurologist, psychiatrist or licensed psychologist. The data will consist of a series of well-known questionnaires and background information for the mother to complete and one questionnaire for the child's teacher.

I assure you there are several steps to ensure the participants' privacy. I was approved by CUNY's Independent Review Board (#09-09-1836). If you would like to participate, please email your name and address to: and I will send you a letter of introduction and a consent form with a self addressed stamped envelope via post. When I receive signed consent, I will send you a packet of the questionnaires along with the teacher's questionnaire along with self addressed stamped envelopes. You may stop participation at any time. Please feel free to contact me at my email address if you have any questions.

Abbie Connolly

The NAA New York Metro chapter does not endorse any treatment, therapy, diet, protocol, nor any provider, individual or group. Any information provided at NAA-NYM presentations, meetings, on our website, or on our blog is provided for informational purposes only. Parents must of course make their own decisions concerning any treatment, therapy or provider. NAA-NYM recommends that families consult with an experienced doctor or other professional before commencing treatments or therapies for their children.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Laura Hynes, from ExtraoRDInaryminds, Speaks on RDI

Laura Hynes, from, spoke to the NAA-NY Metro Chapter about Relationship Development Intervention (RDI.) RDI is a treatment for individuals with neurodevelopmental problems which trains parents to engage in dynamic activities with their children so they can move away from static, rigid patterns of behavior.

Laura explained the ways in which neurotypical brains form connections allowing different areas of the brain to collaborate in a flexible way and how "dynamic connectivity" in typical brains allows a person to respond to changing and complex situations quickly and, when needed in an innovative way. That contrasts with ASD brain development where there is a rigidity in the connections and an underconnectivity, leading to a more rigid reliance on learned rules and static situations. She discussed the way the static intelligence (i.e., what we know) combines with dynamic intelligence (i.e., what we do with what we know) to create fully developed brain function.

RDI aims to develop that dynamic element for our children so that they are able to fully participate in all aspects of their lives. Laura discussed the importance of experience sharing language in reaching our children and drawing then out. She offered a number of easy "foundational" tips that parents could start using right away: comment (on actions, offering opinions and ideas), which is more open-ended and less predictable, rather than ask questions designed to elicit a specific response; use less language and more non-verbal communication (body language, facial expression, gesture); use more indirect prompts and fewer direct prompts. She also discussed creating opportunities of "productive uncertainty" where a child still feels safe but can be challenged and become curious - productive uncertainty is an opportunity for cognitive growth because it stretches you.

In RDI parents are their child's guides. While parents work with an RDI consultant to set goals and learn RDI techniques to achieve the goals, it is a parent-driven program, with the parents "doing RDI" with the child, not a therapist. By making parent the providers of the therapy, RDI respects and celebrates the parent-child connection.

To learn more about RDI, you can contact Laura Hynes. Here is an excerpt of her presentation:

Next Generation Beverage Makes A Generous Donation to the National Autism Association

Rich Wilson, Kim Mack Rosenberg, Sabeeha Rehman and NY Giant Brandon Jacobs

On January 21st, Next Generation Beverage sponsored an Action for Autism Gala to benefit NAA-NY Metro's parent organization -- the National Autism Association -- and the Eden II Programs. NAA-New York Metro Chapter accepted a donation of $5,000 on behalf of the National Autism Association. Representing NAA were New York Metro Chapter board members Sabeeha and Khalid Rehman, Kim Mack Rosenberg, Mary Hernandez, and Stuart Flaum. The event was held at the beautiful Marina Del Rey Caterers in Throgs Neck and special appearances were made by Brandon Jacobs of the NY Giants, Fernando Martinez of the NY Mets , and former NY Ranger Ron Greschner, who has founded the Ron Greschner Foundation to support autism research and awareness.

See photo album