In 1991 my son, Brandon, was 20 months old and severely autistic. There were a number of schools in the Long Island area that served developmentally disabled children and I enrolled Brandon immediately so he could begin receiving therapeutic and educational services. However, after two full years of intensive intervention in two different placements, my son was worse than ever! He had no emotional connection to his family or the outside world. He had no speech at all and could not comprehend a word that was spoken to him. There were daily, hour-long tantrums filled with screaming and banging his head on the floor.
Our lives changed dramatically when Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism’s Martin C. Barell school opened in 1993 and Brandon was accepted as a student. Within several months, he was comprehending and reproducing speech, learning to dress himself, and able to chew solid food. Brandon’s frustration level decreased and his behavior improved. We also enrolled him in the Saturday recreation program provided by Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism (NSSA), so that he could learn how to play and my husband and I could devote some time to our younger child. Our family began to heal.
Brandon is now 28 years old and he attends NSSA’s Adult Services Program. He is a loving, light-hearted young man who is a joy to be with! Although Brandon still requires constant supervision, he works at several part-time jobs and has many functional skills. Through the years, I have enrolled him in many recreation programs that are specifically designed for mentally challenged people that are run by a variety of agencies, yet I have never experienced the same level of comfort and peace of mind leaving Brandon with other caregivers that I have when I know he is being supervised by NSSA.
What sets NSSA apart for the other seemingly similar programs is their advanced level of expertise. Our son simply could not be taught by the same methods applied to children with different disabilities. The staff at NSSA is continually involved in the latest research and training that specifically pertains to autism. I have never seen teachers and administrators who work so diligently or care so deeply about each and every child. NSSA is a second home to Brandon and I pray that they will be involved in caring for him for his entire life.