NYFAC Recreational Programming
Andrew Baumann, MA, ICADC, FAPA
Children with autism and related disorders have the unique ability to model both behaviors and actions. This has been observed at almost every level of functioning, across a wide variety of environments, and with a wide variety of people. Many children diagnosed with autism display “echolalia”(repeating or parroting). This in itself can be hampering to positive development but if used appropriately can be very instructive and educational to the student or individual. For example, A child is watching a television program and repeats everything he/she hears. This may go on for weeks; the child has instant recall of a list of characters or credits that they heard on a show. At any given time the child might blurt out this information, at the dinner table, while in school, or wherever the impulse strikes. If we work to develop a very specialized teaching environment , based on a certain amount of peer interaction, with familiar people we can utilize echolalia in a positive way. For example, we took one child to a basketball game. He was encouraged to root for the home team by shouting “Lets Go Team!” by the middle of the game the child was independently using this cheer in an appropriate manner. Of course this does not apply to all children with autism. Well it is the same with actions. Children with autism seem to develop the unique ability to watch and copy. NYFAC has sought to build on these inner talents by utilizing a family based approach within its’ recreational programming.
All NYFAC recreational programming are considered a “family affair”. Typically developing siblings, and other family members, including parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts are encouraged to participate in all areas of the program. In this way we can teach, support and encourage positive behaviors, actions, and verbalizations from the child affected by autism.
NYFAC recreational programming does not stop there. There are huge benefits to all those who participate in this process.
Typical Developing Siblings
These children often feel “left out” of the teaching process. Many children we interview say that they feel “neglected” or “alone” when it comes to their special needs sibling. In our recreational programs we rely on peer level teaching and the interaction of typically developing children in the teaching process. These siblings are left with a feeling of not only being included in the process but of having a meaningful contribution to the success of their sibling. One young girl we observed was overjoyed when her brother was able to hit a tennis ball over the net unassisted. She yelled out “See I knew he could do it!” Another young boy was seen to actually go over and assist his sibling in hitting a baseball of the tee. The parents comment, “We never saw him helping like this before!”
Overall the inclusion of typically developing children has proved over and over again to be an essential part of the learning process for children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. (* NYFAC also provides sibling support groups)
Very often parents are left to stand on the sidelines when it comes to their “special needs” child. While at therapists office, or while at school, parents are generally not included in these processes. We as parents have had to become “parent experts” and very often are the only ones who know what is best or appropriate for our children. NYFAC recreational programming not only includes parents in the teaching process but mandates it. There is nothing more special than the look on a fathers face when his son (with autism) is able to hit the baseball and run to first base unassisted. (I should know I am the parent of a beautiful eight year old with autism named Anthony). How do you measure the feeling that any parent has when they see any child achieve? Well multiply that by ten because most times these children would not have the opportunity to engage in any of these structured recreational activities.
On another front, parents have an opportunity to meet each other, make friends, and develop bonds that often result in positive friendships. (* NYFAC also provides parent support groups that meet monthly).
Grandparents seem to get more from the recreation programs than anyone else. As a grandparent you take enormous joy and pride in your grandchildren. Recreational activities give them a chance to fully participate and “play” with their grandchildren. Grandparents also have the opportunity to meet each other and talk (brag) about the kids. NYFAC also provides a Grandparent support group that meets monthly.
Aunts, Uncles, Other Family
Every family that participates in our programs has a unique opportunity to learn more about the disorder of autism and how to help the child. One of the most important things we hear all the time from family members is that they are afraid to have the “special” child over for an event. By participating in our programs family members are engaged, educated and supported to be a part of the teaching process.
All NYFAC recreational programs meet the standards for reimbursement from OPWDD for your child with a disability only!
Please take note NYFAC does not run all these programs at the same time. Most are seasonal. Please call Barbara at 718-641-3441, extension 100 for more information.
***YOU MUST BE A FAMILY MEMBER TO PARTICIPATE IN ALL NYFAC PROGRAMS***
Please note, these groups are subject to change or cancellation.
Please contact Barbara at 718-641-3441, extension 100 to register for the programs below, or to become a family member.
Click flyer to download the application.
*** Registration is Limited ***
This is one of the “most requested” programs and in response we have designed a program meant to meet the needs of our members! This program is held every Friday from 7-8 p.m. Locker rooms open at 6:30 p.m.
NYFAC’s basic rules for the program:
- Each child must be accompanied into the water by a parent.
- Arrive at 6:30 p.m. to change and prepare for 7 p.m. entry into the water
- 30 minute instructional lessons followed by 30 minutes of Parents working directly with their child to actualize the lesson.
- Goggles are recommended
Cost is: $75 program fee for first child; $50 fee for second child.
You must comply with ALL facility rules… Each person in the water must wear a bathing cap and you must bring a lock for your locker. Additional facility rules will be provided via the Flushing Meadows Aquatic Center’s website.
Check back for dates and information for our next session.
Annual Holiday Arts and Crafts
In this program, children meet monthly. It is project oriented, with children creating different projects. This is a great opportunity for teaching social interaction.
Check back for dates and information for our next session.
***THIS IS A FREE PROGRAM FOR MEMBER FAMILIES***
Coming soon but still in development : (WATCH FOR DATES)
NYFAC, in collaboration with the World Ice Arena, will soon be offering ice skating for our children.
Children will learn the art of putting, chipping and driving… patience and fine motor skills are needed to be successful here!
This program will include piano or guitar lessons. Children will be offered an opportunity to play an instrument. Watch for details.
This program is a 6 month structured program which revolves around discipline, and coordination exercises. This program is great for teaching patience turn taking and social interaction. As soon as we have enough interest, we will schedule.
NYFAC is constantly seeking individual, corporate or company sponsorships for sports or teams. If you or your families are interested in sponsoring teams, please contact our offices at 718-641-3441.