DDI hosted its most successful annual Stars Gala and Auction on Friday, November 17, 2017 at Villa Lombardi’s in Holbrook. Over 400 attendees danced the night away and raised funds to help DDI fulfill its mission to help children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities experience personal growth and fulfillment.


The night paid tribute to those who have dedicated their time to support DDI. DDI longtime supporter, Edward Grilli, was selected as the 2017 Stars Gala Honoree. Helping to create a world without limits for the individuals served by DDI, Ed has been a true advocate and friend to the organization. He has given much of his time and money to support DDI in its mission from fundraising to facilitating meetings with top elected officials. DDI also recognized two members of its Board of Directors who will be retiring at the end of 2017. Kevin Long and Karen Valerie have given countless hours of dedicated service to the individuals served by DDI.






Employing DDI individuals since 1987, DiCarlo Food Service was the very first Long Island employer to establish such a relationship with DDI. DiCarlo Food Service was awarded the 2017 Employer of the Year for giving the individuals DDI serves the opportunity to become more independent and able to lead self-sufficient lives in the future. Stephen Maltese was selected as the 2017 Employee of the Year. Stephen is the Assistant Residential Manager at the Radio Avenue Residence and has been a DDI employee for 26 years. Stephen’s dedication and commitment to the individuals DDI serves is admirable and has become an inspiration to all who work alongside him.





DDI would like to thank all of its 2017 Gala Honorees, sponsors, attendees, journal advertisers, donors and volunteers for helping to make the night a success.


A recent New York Times article highlighted the dangers of the proposed bill which recommends sweeping reforms to the Medicaid program, and reverses the advancements in healthcare made possible through the Affordable Care Act.



The U.S. Senate bill is entitled “The Better Care Reconciliation Act” and it’s different than the American Health Care Act (AHCA) which the legislation passed by the House of Representatives in May.



The Better Care Reconciliation Act, if enacted as initially drafted, will impose stricter funding limits on states with higher Medicaid spending.



Stricter funding limits would mean States would be required to either find new funding to support Medicaid or, more likely, cut Medicaid through restricting enrollment, curbing benefits, and reducing payments to health care providers.



Please take a moment to read the article that underlines the effect that this bill can have on the lives of people with disabilities.

DDI is pleased to announce that the Young Autism Program (YAP) and Starting Early Preschool (SEP) are coming together under one umbrella of Early Childhood Services that will include an Early Childhood Center for Autism. 

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We’re excited to be bringing these programs together in order to ensure that children receiving Early Childhood Services at all DDI Early Childhood Learning Centers will have access to a continuum of classroom models including integrated classes at all of our locations in order to meet each child’s unique needs. Services provided will continue to be evidence based, best practice and consistent across all sites.


While the YAP and Starting Early names have been synonymous with DDI for many years, we’ll be rebranding all of our Early Childhood Services under that one name to better reflect who we are today.  All of the services offered to children with ASD will be coordinated by DDI’s Early Childhood Center for Autism which utilizes the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and ensures that all services are state of the art, based on current research.


Dr. Linda Whitaker Hobbs, who currently provides leadership to Starting Early, will be the Director of Early Childhood Services.  The Early Childhood Center for Autism will be under the direction of Christine Racca, who currently provides leadership to YAP.


We look forward to sharing additional information with you about our Early Childhood Services in the weeks to come. As we continue to evolve and grow, we are excited to partner with you to provide an exceptional educational experience for all children.