St. Johns University Students & Alum Walk to Benefit Services provided by DDI for Children & Adults with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities



Nathan Holmes, John Kenny, Liam Kenny, Morgan Zajkowski, Rita Rausch, Ellen McBurney, and Peter Barker, will be back at it again, walking from the Brooklyn Bridge to Montauk Point Lighthouse from May 25th - 31st. 



The Walk will raise funds to support the renovation and expansion of DDI’s Little Plains School, which provides educational programs for over 300 children with developmental disabilities and their typically developing peers."These students and alumni are embarking on a noble journey to better the lives of others.  It's really wonderful to see the dedication and generosity that Nathan, John and the students have shown.  We are truly honored that they have chosen to support DDI, and to also bring about greater awareness of disability," stated John Lessard, Executive Director of DDI.

DDI Blood DriveThank you so much to our Blood Drive Captains, volunteers and everyone who came down to Meadow Glen in Smithtown to support DDI’s Blood Drive yesterday.  We had a very successful drive. 

32 unitsof blood were donated from DDI.  28 units came from Whole Blood donations and 4 units came from our ALYX donors.  Each pint of blood can save three lives. That works out to 96 livesthat will be saved from our donations. 

The staff of New York Blood Services was very appreciative of our donors and worked very hard for our drive.  They were very pleased with the amount of donations which again exceeded our original goal.  They can’t wait to see how our next drive will be.

Those who donated will receive a pair of Mets tickets for a future game this spring.  In addition, everyone who donated is eligible to win a pair of tickets to the upcoming Super Bowl at Met Life Stadium. 

To all those who presented to donate, you should be very proud.  You have made a difference.  There is an urgent need for your blood donation now.  Whole blood donors may donate every 56 days. For more information or to schedule a blood donation at NYBS Centers, please call 1-800-933-BLOOD (2566) or visit the website

Again, many thanks!  Please look out for our next blood drive to be held in the summer of 2014!

What It Means For DDI Staff and Families


On Friday, January 10th, 2014, Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill that will license applied behavior analysts. To date, applied behavior analysis (ABA), which is supported by hundreds of carefully controlled, peer reviewed studies, is considered the most effective treatment for addressing the unique needs of persons with autism. The bill, S4862A-2013, sponsored by Assemblyman Joe Morelle , and Former Senator Charles Fuschillo makes the credential of Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) as granted by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, Inc. (BACB) the primary requirement for licensing behavior analysts in New York.  Until now, BCBAs possessed a certification from the national non-profit certification corporation called the BACB, but were not affiliated with or recognized by any New York State regulatory body. With this legislation, licensed behavior analysts (i.e., BCBAs who elect to become licensed) will now join the list of professionals licensed and regulated by the New York State Education Department's Office of the Professions. The impact of this distinction will be significant for New York’s families who have family members with autism. Here’s why:


Facilitation of Implementation of New York’s 2011 Insurance Reform Law: This reform, passed in late 2011, was intended to provide families who have state-regulated health plans with coverage for applied behavior analysis that was supervised or implemented by a person holding a BCBA. A major hitch to implementation of this law, however, was the nearly simultaneous regulation put out by the state’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) which mandated that in order to qualify for insurance reimbursement, the provider needed to also have one of New York’s psychology, social-work or related mental health licenses. Thus, in effect, insurance panels would be limited to BCBAs who also possessed another mental health license. This produced a major barrier to families accessing insurance coverage, as there are very few clinicians in New York who met those dual criteria. This is because, as Shook (2005) noted, the majority of BCBAs have Masters Degrees in Special Education, which is not a profession that provides a license, but rather a certification. By one recent estimate there were less than 45 professionals in the entire state who had both a BCBA and another license in a mental health profession. In July, 2013, DFS enacted an emergency repeal to their position, allowing professionals with a BCBA to be eligible for insurance reimbursement without an additional license. However, BCBAs still faced another barrier to practice, the State Education Laws.

Read more: Board Certified Behavior Analysts May Now Become Licensed

A small new study suggests children with autism can benefit from a type of therapy that helps them become more comfortable with the sounds, sights and sensations of their daily surroundings.


The therapy is called sensory integration. It uses play to help these kids feel more at ease with everything from water hitting the skin in the shower to the sounds of household appliances.


The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders published Roseann Schaaf findings.  Schaaf is an occupational therapist at Thomas Jefferson University's School of Health Professions in Philadelphia.


The research team randomly assigned 32 children aged 4 to 8 to one of two groups. One group stuck with their usual care, including medications and behavioral therapies. The other group added 30 sessions of sensory integration therapy over 10 weeks.


After 30 sessions, Schaaf's team found that children in the sensory integration group scored higher on a standardized "goal attainment scale," versus kids in the comparison group, and were generally faring better in their daily routines.


Read more about this new study in Newsday.