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Special Needs Expos

March 12th, 2015

special needs expos

Earlier this year, we interviewed Heather Rogoff Angstreich, Founder/Partner, Special Needs Expos about the upcoming year and events they are holding in 2015. Here’s what she had to say:

  1. Why did you create special needs expos? 

All I wanted to do was help other parents and children who were in my shoes. My son, (who is now 10 years old), was diagnosed with Autism when he was two years old.  I attended a small special needs resource fair when he was first diagnosed and found it incredibly helpful.  I love helping people so, when I got laid off, I started Special Needs for Special Kids, a printed special needs resource guide that I distributed across Long Island. I met my partners (Scott and Jamie) through this publication; they became clients. They knew I started the publication because I wanted to help other parents who needed guidance and resources to navigate the world of special needs here in Long Island.  Scott suggested that I should take the publication to another level and we thought we would do a small resource fair at a local JCC to bring some special needs resources together for a one-time event.  Scott and Jamie were no strangers to the special needs community either; they had a close family member who inspired them to get involved.

  1. How did you begin this endeavor?

We looked for a venue to hold this little resource fair and ended up booking a much larger space at a local hotel.  We went from one end of the spectrum to the other and kept our fingers crossed that we would be able to fill the space. Our first expo was geared more towards children with special needs, but we did have resources that catered to the adult population too.  Our goal was to have each person that entered the doors to walk out with at least one piece of useful information that day. We estimated that 2500 to 3000 people walked through the doors that day.

  1. What locations are you expanding to in 2015? IMG_20140914_110443493_HDR

Long Island is our “flagship” expo and will be held on April 26th at the Long Island Hilton. The Special Needs Expo – Westchester will be back on November 8, 2015 at the Westchester Marriott and the Special Needs Expo – New Jersey (northern) will also be back on September 27, 2015 at the Glenpointe Marriott in Teaneck. We hope to expand to Philadelphia in 2016.

  1. How does your expo help educate people to advocate for themselves and their family members?

Our expos have a variety of special needs resources, products, services, presentations and demonstrations.  We want people to take advantage of all the exhibitors that have come out.  They are there to answer questions, give support and ideas.  If a person meets the right connection, it can change things for them and/or their loved one.

  1. What makes your expo different from other special needs resource fairs in the area?

Our expos are always free to attend and child-friendly (games and/or inflatables and face painting are provided at no cost to the attendee). We offer a wide variety of resources, presentations and demonstrations. We have a quiet room for those that might need to take a break, if they are too overwhelmed. We want to connect these amazing resources with the individuals, families, caregivers and professionals to help make the journey a little less difficult.  Our Long Island events have connected over 300 exhibitors to 5000 attendees in the last two years.  Westchester and NJ events are also growing and we have heard from many of our FB and website followers that the need is there for this service.

  1. How do can people find more info about your expos? How do vendors register for an exhibit?

We have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SpecialNeedsExpos and our official website URL is www.specialneedsexpos.com.There is a tab for attendees to register and a separate one for exhibitors to register and receive more information.  To contact us directly, email us at info@specialneedsexpos.com or call us at 516-279-3727.

 

Learn more about Littman Krooks services at www.littmankrooks.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


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Program Created for Families Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders at American Museum of Natural History

February 4th, 2015

The American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the Seaver Autism Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is beginning “The Discovery Squad,” a new tour program developed for families impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The program will begin on February 7, 2015 and run on selected Saturday mornings through June 2015. It is open to 5-14 year-olds with autism spectrum disorders (each child must be accompanied by an adult).

Children can join a tour lead by trained Museum tour guides and spend time exploring the Discovery Room (an interactive exhibit that gives a behind-the-scenes look at all the major fields of science, ranging from anthropology to zoology) before the Museum is open to the public. Families are invited to stay after the tour and enjoy the rest of the museum.

To learn more about additional dates, information, or to buy tickets, click here or please call the American Museum of Natural History at 212-313-7565 or email accessibility@amnh.org


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Smart Pens, Tablets, and Word Prediction Software: Utilizing Technology for High School & College Students (part 1 of 2)

February 7th, 2014

Our latest guest bloggers are Casey Schmalacker, Academic Coach and Samantha Feinman, MS.Ed., TSSH., Program Director at New Frontiers in Learning. This is part one of a two-part series.


Utilizing Technology for High School and College Students: Part 1of 2

As we move through this digital age, students in high school and college are increasingly using technology as a mechanism to support learning. Technology can be used in a multitude of ways, ranging from electronic organizational systems and digital reminders, to supporting more complex academic tasks through the use of computer software. Assistive technology, specifically, has been infused into the daily schedules of students with disabilities to support the removal of learning barriers that some individuals may face. Among students utilizing assistive technology to improve academic learning, high school and college students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in particular have increasingly incorporated the use of technology into the learning environment.

Assistive technology consists of services and devices that provide equal education opportunities to students with disabilities by providing supports that focus on individual-specific needs. Assistive technology has been used to improve skills in areas such as note-taking, reading comprehension, and expository and narrative writing. Such tasks are integral to the academic experience, in that a student’s ability to excel in these areas most often is directly related to their level of success. This article will discuss why assistive technology is necessary for students with ASD transitioning from high school to college, as well as outline three forms of effective assistive technology, and how one would incorporate such technology into the learning environment.

Research has demonstrated that the use of computers has resulted in the improvement of the skills of students with ASD in a variety of different areas, such as attention, fine motor, and generalization (Habash, 2005). Improvement of skills is many times the desirable goal, and therefore technology can act as a means to accommodating specific deficits that prevent goal attainment.

In order to achieve success in the high school and college arenas, students need to be able to access supports to successfully comprehend large amounts of reading material and class lecture and discussion, as well as write at a much more independent and sophisticated level. When students demonstrate weaknesses in these areas, they are unable to demonstrate their maximum potential, and their work may become an inaccurate representation of their true capabilities. Assistive technology can begin to bridge the gap between student obstacles and the execution of their academic responsibilities.

Developing strategies and systems for use with assistive technology is important to master during high school so students can effectively deploy the technologies at the college level. The college work environment has a few fundamental differences from high school that can increase the difficulty level, especially for students with ASD. Class time at universities is devoted to many more lectures, requiring vigorous note-taking on course content that, many times, is important to know for exams, class projects, and discussion. Sometimes the material covered in class is not covered anywhere else (i.e., textbook, PowerPoint slides, handouts, etc.), requiring techniques to ensure all material is accessible by the student. Outside of the classroom, reading materials tend to also become more taxing, covering abstract topics that can be difficult to understand. As opposed to reading simply for content, there is an increased emphasis of being able to analyze readings. Further, while high school classes tend to provide guided questions to lead the student through the readings, college classes tend to rely on the student to identify key topics and themes.

The fundamental changes above can seem hard to manage; however, by establishing assistive technology supports while still in high school, such transitions can be managed in a much more efficient manner. Creating a course of action is important for students with ASD because environmental changes may lead to high levels of stress that can drastically affect a student’s ability to participate and succeed in the learning environment.

This two-part blog series will include examples of how technology can be used to support students with ASD in the learning environment with a focus specifically on supporting students at the high school and college levels. Look forward to spotlights on Tablets and Computers, Smart Pens, and Word Prediction Software.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Samantha Feinman, Program Director, New Frontiers in Learning at sfeinman@nfil.net.

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