Governor Cuomo has proposed a $15 minimum wage for all but he failed to put funding in for Direct Support Professionals, special education staff and other low wage workers whose rate is set by the State.  As an agency responsible for the care of more than 5,000 New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, we are perplexed at the State’s budgetary plans for ensuring the continuity of these vital supports and services.  Please help us reach Governor Cuomo to have him provide the additional funding which will be necessary for not-for-profit service providers to increase the pay scale for their staff members who take care of our most vulnerable population of people with disabilities.


Everyone needs to CALL OR WRITE the Governor and your Senator, Assembly member today!!!
Act NOW or it will be too late!  The Governor’s Budget amendments will be out next week!

Governor Cuomo MUST fund his $15 minimum wage proposal! Funding is critical to the health, safety and well-being of people with developmental disabilities and it’s the right thing to do for the people who work tirelessly caring for them.

1.      Governor (518) 474 -1041 and press 3 to speak to an assistant

2.      Senate switchboard – (518) 455 – 2800 – and ask for your Senator.  You can find your Senator at   Urge your Senator to Call the Governor and tell him to fund his $15 minimum wage.

3.      Assembly switchboard (518) 455-4100 – and ask for your Assembly member.  You can find your Assembly member at   Urge your Assembly member to Call the Governor and tell him to fund his $15 minimum wage.


Click to use the  IAC  website to automatically send emails and  find your local legislators to tell the Governor to fund his minimum wage proposal.
Printed letters can also be generated.  Send letters to:

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Once you click the link, click on the box that says “take action”.  If you want printed letters click the circle on the right next to “printed letters” then fill in the sender information.

It is especially important that the Governor hear from Direct Support Professionals, Education staff and other low wageworkers who support people with developmental disabilities


April: Autism Awareness Month




All Lecture Series presentations are being held from 7-9 p.m. in the Lecture Hall at DDI’s Hollywood Drive Campus, 99 Hollywood Drive, Smithtown, NY.  Space is limited for free lectures; anyone interested should call 631-366-5875 to register.


April 9th       

New Directions in Understanding and Supporting Social Competence on the Autism Spectrum


Matthew D. Lerner, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry, & Pediatrics
Director, Social Competence & Treatment Lab
Stony Brook University



Dr. Lerner will provide a brief history and overview of interventions designed to address social challenges among school-age and teenage youth with ASD. He will introduce the concept of “therapeutic mechanisms” and describe what types of treatments may work best and for which individuals. Finally, he will knit these insights together by presenting research emerging from Stony Brook University’s Social Competence and Treatment Lab.

Dr. Lerner’s research focuses on “real world” implications of social problems in children and adolescents (especially those with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders [ASD]). He has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and serves on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders and Behavior Therapy, and as Co-Chair of the Autism Spectrum & Developmental Disabilities Special Interest Group at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.


April 23rd

 Beyond Vaccines: How New Approaches in Genetics and Neuroscience are Transforming Our Understanding of Autism


Alan Packer, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist at the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI


A number of large studies have failed to turn up any evidence in support of a connection between vaccinations and autism. Unfortunately, the attention paid to this issue, has detracted from the substantial progress that has been made of late.  Most importantly, we have learned that susceptibility to autism has a significant genetic component.


Dr.  Packer’s presentation will discuss how new findings related to the genetic causes of autism are informing and driving the research agenda. It will look at how the fetal brain might be affected both by genetic and environmental risk factors. Changes in brain development are beginning to be modeled successfully in experimental animals, providing opportunities for a deeper understanding of how autism develops.


This presentation will also include a discussion of exciting new research on the development of very young children known to be at higher risk of autism. It is hoped that these findings will lead to much earlier diagnosis and more successful interventions. Finally, Dr. Packer will outline a new initiative by the Simons Foundation to recruit up to 50,000 individuals on the autism spectrum to participate in this research.



Alan Packer, Ph.D. is Senior Scientist at the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI), the largest private funder of research on autism spectrum disorders in the United States. Since joining SFARI in 2009 he has been part of a team working to oversee a portfolio of grants to scientists working on all aspects of autism research, with an emphasis on the genetic basis of the disorder. Prior to joining SFARI he spent eight years as an editor at the journal Nature Genetics, and is currently on the advisory board of the journal Science Translational Medicine. He writes about the latest findings in autism research for





Developmental Disabilities Institute

99 Hollywood Drive

Smithtown, NY  11787




From Eastern Long Island:  LIE to Exit 55, make right on Motor Parkway. Continue about 200 ft. and bare right onto Old Willets Path.  Continue on Old Willets Path for approximately 2 miles, and then cross over Jericho Turnpike.  Old Willets Path now changes to Plymouth Blvd.  Go to the first stop sign and make a left onto Parnell Drive.  Make the next left onto Hollywood Drive.  The campus is at the end of the block. 


From Western Long Island:  LIE to Exit 55, make left onto Motor Parkway. Go over LIE bridge and proceed about 200 ft. and bare right onto Old Willets Path.  Follow directions above.


*Presentation in DDI’s Public Education (Lecture) Series does not in and of itself constitute or imply DDI’s recommendation or endorsement. DDI’s Public Education Series is intended only to provide the public with presentations related to the larger issue of Developmental Disability that are thought provoking, interesting and timely

We are proud to announce DDI’s Spring 2015 Film Forum!DDI staff and the entire community of movie lovers can look forward to more topical, engaging, award winning films than ever!  Each film deals with the challenges of facing life with a disability.  The season’s offerings will include some shorts and foreign language entries.  Presentations are, as always, FREE and will be held on the last Thursday of each month in the Smithtown Hollywood Drive Lecture Hall from 7 to 9pm.


Following each film, a discussion will be facilitated by the person(s) who recommended it to the forum. Film themes will cover issues of first time independence, devastating misdiagnosis, abandonment, isolation and transcendence.


The goal remains the same: to provide entertainment and information while exploring issues faced by individuals with disabilities.

*** Refreshments will be served.


Our first 6 selections ( with trailers) are as follows:


1/29: The Station AgentThe Station Agent Trailer

2/26My Flesh and Blood My Flesh and Blood Trailer

3/26: Refrigerator MothersRefrigerator Mothers Trailer

4:30 Wretches and JabberersWretches and Jabberers Trailer

5/28The Collector of Bedford Street The Collector of Bedford Street Trailer

6/25The Color of Paradise The Color of Paradise Trailer


A synopsis for each of the above films can be found (along with films planned for the latter part of 2015) in the attached overview.  Films are indexed alphabetically.



* Please call Dr. Michael Romas at 631-366-5875 for a detailed description of each film - and be sure to RSVP.


DDI will be dancing for a cause-Autism.  Adults served by DDI are partnering up with students of Vic D’Amore’s American Studio of Performing Arts for the fourth year to produce “Dancing for Autism” on Friday, May 15th at the Kings Park High School Auditorium. Tickets will be sold at $10 general admission or $5 for senior citizens and children under 12 to benefit DDI’s Adult Day Program. Raffles will also be available.


Dancers will take to the stage with numerous acts including tap dancing, freestyle dance, and Irish step pieces.  The dance program originated with two devoted DDI staff members whose determination and passion to bring the arts to the adults served by DDI culminated with this very special collaboration with Vic’s studio.


DDI’s Day Programs serve adults with developmental disabilities and autism at seven locations throughout Suffolk County.  Day programs assist adults served by DDI with education, personal skills development, recreation and job training services to help prepare each individual to become productive members of the community in which they reside.


“I would like to acknowledge the entire Adult Day Recreation Program recreation staff for putting on this unique and entertaining event to showcase the abilities of the people we serve,” commented John Lessard, DDI’s Executive Director.   “It is an exciting process to watch the collaboration between DDI and Vic D’Amore’s Dance studio and the sheer enjoyment of everyone involved.  I encourage everyone reading this to come out and support all of the performers.”


For further information or to order tickets, please contact the Recreation Department at (631) 360-4641 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


DDI and its Starting Early Program were the beneficiaries of some much needed help from a group of 10 volunteers courtesy of Goldman Sachs.  On July 11th, volunteers spent the day greatly improving the aesthetics and creating an attractive gateway into the new “Busy Town” playground. 


Rob Martin, a Goldman Sachs employee and parent of a child enrolled in the Starting Early Program, helped organize the beautification program as a “Community Team Works Project.”  “Our group from Goldman Sachs was delighted to assist in this effort on behalf of DDI,” commented Martin.  “It was the source of tremendous fulfillment for each of us when we saw the finished product and more importantly, the students playing in this beautiful environment.”


The work was completed at DDI’s Little Plains campus, which serves approximately 300 children with autism and other developmental disabilities.  From infant to five-years old, DDI’s Starting Early Programprovides superior educational and therapeutic services for children who present with developmental delays. DDI graduates over 92% to their home school district kindergarten programs.


Goldman Sachs volunteers spent the day planting shrubs and flowers to enhance the look of the new playground.    Students entertained the volunteers by singing some graduation songs to show their appreciation.  “The staff and students are so thankful for all the hard work that the Goldman Sachs volunteers did to make "Busy Town" a delightful and colorful place to play and enjoy,” commented Michelle Lawrence, Education Behavior Specialist for DDI.