First-Then Boards Helped Johnny!


After we gave him a fun activity to look forward to, he knew he had to finish his first task in order to get to the second and this helped him tremendously. Continue reading

Dogs CAN help children with autism spectrum disorder


British researchers have been following families with autistic children who have a dog and have noticed a positive effect. Continue reading

A-Z – a Year of Routine 

Picture of Rivky

“The whole concept is using reinforcement to encourage children to not only do what they need to do, but to turn an undesirable task into an intrinsically motivating experience that the students want to do”. – Rivky Ismach Continue reading

Important Questions to Ask Your Autistic Child’s Teacher

parent-teacher conference

We’re about a month into the new school year, and for parents of children on the autism spectrum, getting the information you need about how they’re doing in school can be even more difficult than it is for parents of “neurotypical” children. This is partly due to the difficulties many autistic children have with communication in general, but also because their perspective on their social progress and behavior can be very different. Continue reading

Back to School for Shema Kolainu

It’s that exciting time of year again, when classes begin at Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices. On Tuesday, September 3, 2013, all teachers and staff were in attendance for a day of orientation presentations and workshops. Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices is dedicated to serving children with autism and their families to provide the ultimate care and support, in order to ensure they reach their full potential for independence. Each teacher and assistant must be dedicated to give it their all each and every day.

The morning began at 9:00 am with a presentation given by the school’s Founder and CEO, Dr. Joshua Weinstein. Dr. Weinstein emphasized the importance of attitude, and how important it really is to walk into work everyday with a positive attitude. Children, especially those with autism and other special needs, feed of the positive attitudes of their teachers and therapists.

Dr. Weinstein continued with a recap of Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices’ past activities, included visitors from Singapore’s Ministry of Education, New York City Council members, and inspirational speakers. The staff was also filled in on the success of the 11th Annual Legislative Breakfast, held to honor members of the New York City Council as well as State Legislature, for their outstanding work in the autism community. Finally, Dr. Weinstein discussed Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices’ partner organization, The International Center for Autism Research and Education (ICare4Autism), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to driving collaborations among leading autism researchers to discover the etiology of autism.

Dr. Weinstein reflects, “The new year is an exciting time for both the teachers and the students here at Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices. I look forward to seeing a successful school year for all our children and parents, and for our miracles to occur.”

Free School For Autistic Children to Open Next Month

A new school is being built in Reading, Berkshire; a collaboration between the National Autistic Society, parents, volunteer groups, local authorities and other schools, the Thames Valley School is among the new breed of free schools in England built to aid five-to-19-year-olds on the autistic spectrum.

Autism gives children the unique ability to concentrate on narrow topics that other kids might find mundane. Fiona Veitch, the school’s head teacher, says she’s driven to use these “special interests” to give the children a vocation and help them learn.  She is also working with an architect to make the school as autism-friendly as possible.

The autistic children won’t be educated in isolation from the non-autistic kids.  Thomas Valley plans to share its resources and invite mainstream pupils to after-school clubs.  Some pupils will also attend classes at other schools.

Veitch and her staff intend to help pupils meet the national expectation of five GCSEs or more, while also providing strategies to help them cope with their autism.

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New Arizona School for Children with Autism

August 1, 2013 was the first day of class for students at Intermountain Academy in Tucson, Arizona. The school, utilizing the space of what used to be Howenstine High School, provides one-on-one education services to students with autism from pre-k to 5th grade. This school is supplemental to existing programs, giving these students the opportunity for a smaller class size, as typical class sizes can be overwhelming and distracting for these students.

One student, Kymonni Daniels, is already benefiting from the services she is receiving, and her mother, Phoebe, could not be happier. Phoebe had done extensive research on schooling for her autistic daughter, and Intermountain Academy was the best choice. Her daughter is a lot happier than normal coming home from school and has already learned to write the letter “K”. Cyndee Win, Education Program Specialist at Intermountain Academy, explains that by providing each student with a one-on-one, the child has the opportunity to take a break if necessary and each activity can be tailored to his or her specific needs. Win also explains that “social interaction is really important for our students…getting them to play together in an experience like that after the fourth day of school, fifth day of school? Amazing!” [i]

Providing children with autism and other developmental disabilities the specific education they need is crucial, as many have sensory issues and the like. Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices offers students numerous therapy services, including speech therapy, ABA therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc. The teachers and staff are trained to assess each situation with care, to ensure the success of each student.

[i] “News 4 Tucson” New school for students with autism. 13 Aug 2013. Web. <!prettyPhoto/0/>

New Autism Center Opening in San Marcos

On August 17, 2013, the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) will host the grand opening of a new autism treatment center located in San Marcos. The reception will be held from 1:00-3:00 pm, allowing a tour of the facility and the opportunity to meet the staff.

The diagnosis for autism is increasing, so it is crucial for centers like this to be available for families of children with autism. CARD is known throughout the world for their innovative advances in the autism field, such as the “Skills” program. “Skills” accesses a child’s strengths and weaknesses to design a treatment plan and track the progress.

The center in San Marcos will utilize the method of Applied Behavior Analysis, as CARD services offer both center-based and home-based services, school shadowing, and training for the families. The students at the center will receive over 3,500 lessons in 8 areas of learning including, academic, adaptive, cognition, executive function, language, motor, play and social skills. [1] Operations manager, Christopher Shilling, is excited for the opening of the new center,

“We are excited to expand our services to the San Marcos area. We want to enable those who live in the San Marcos and surrounding area to receive the effective treatment that they need to reach their highest potential.”

Like Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices, CARD is dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults diagnosed with autism.

[1] “PR Web” Center for Autism and Related Disorders addresses autism epidemic by ppening state-of-the-art treatment center in San Marcos. 31 Jul 2013. Web. <>

Attorney and Advocate for Children with Special Needs Visits Shema Kolainu

Mr. Gerstman and his wife, Cheryl, met with Ezra Friedlander, CEO of The Friedlander Group, Gili Rechany, Educational Director at Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices, and Suri Gruen, Program Director at Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices.

The group toured the school, and Mr. and Mrs. Gerstman had the opportunity to see our Daily Living Skills Center, Snoezelen Room, and meet some of our students. Mr. Gerstman was very pleased with his visit as he explains, “ I was excited to see the attentive staff work with such care and enthusiasm for these wonderful children. Shema Kolainu is obviously a place where miracles happen.”

Individuals with autism in the news

What happens to autistic kids when they grow up? Does a kid with substantial verbal impairment have a decent shot at growing up to have a family or a job? Does quality of life get better, worse, or stay the same? What kinds of support or services do middle aged people with autism need? What do they get? Are they happy? Here is just a glimpse at a few grown kids.

“Fox and Friends” reports Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman, is the first Miss America contestant to be diagnosed with Autism. She says it has been a battle she’s been fighting since she was 11. The beauty queen’s platform is to inform others about autism. The beauty queen wasn’t always so accepting of her condition, and indicated that she felt alone growing up.

When he was diagnosed with autism at five years old, Trevor Pacelli knew that his childhood and adolescence would be drastically different than that of his peers. But he never let his disorder hold him back — now 19, Pacelli is a published author. His book, “Six-Word Lessons On Growing Up Autistic: 100 Lessons To Understand How Autistic People See Life,” offers practical guidance for understanding autism, and insight on the way that autistic kids and teens view the world. In the excerpt below, Pacelli shares 10 things you should know about autistic teens.

Stephen Schuman is a successful adult who loves NASCAR racing, his dog, and his family. He works full time as a cook for a small mom-and-pop restaurant. He is ideal for the position because he is meticulous, following each step to the recipes with precision. He is a loving uncle and a popular member of his community who stuns people with his bowling skills.

Years ago, Stephen was diagnosed with severe autism. The doctor suggested that his parents put him in an institution because he would never be able to function normally, nor would he ever speak. Helen Schuman did not agree. She went against the doctor’s suggestions and raised her son without the support or services that are available today. When Steve was six years old, he said his first words while he was sitting in the back seat of the car “Do not pass.”

Lizzy Clark (born 3 April 1994) is an actress from Shrewsbury, England. Clark’s first role was that of Poppy in the film Dustbin Baby. Both Clark and Poppy have Asperger syndrome, and the BBC specifically searched for an actress with the condition to play the part. Since taking the role, Clark has become involved in her mother’s Don’t Play Me, Pay Me campaign, supporting and encouraging actors with disabilities.