Saturday, February 11, 2006

March & April Events

Some upcoming conferences & events:

• Manhattan DD Legislative Breakfast

Our next meeting is March 8th, but put the Manhattan Developmental Disabilities Council's Legislative Breakfast the next day March 9th from 8 to 10AM, on your calendar if you are ready to think about political advocacy for our kids and the agencies that provide services to help them. The location is one floor up from the Cafe, so it'll be easy to find.

• Working Together ABA Conference at the New York Academy of Medicine, March 30 and 31

This conference is co-sponsored by some of the strongest ABA school programs in the tri-state area: Alpine Learning Group, Eden II Programs, Nassau-Suffolk Services for Autism, and the Connecticut Child Development Center. Sessions will be of interest to ABA professionals, who can get Continuing Education Units required for maintaining their certifications, and for parents interested in a better grasp of behavioral methods. The program for this conference is not available online, but I'll send you a .pdf if you write me at lynn_decker at

DAN! Conference, April 7 to 10 in Washington DC

THE conference on alternative health approaches for Autism Spectrum kids is within driving distance of NYC. I've been to two DAN! Conferences, and though we still do not implement everything on the DAN menu of methods, I always find the conference inspiring, initially overwhelming, but usually a very helpful exercise in refocusing our nutritional and biomedical efforts.

Friday, February 10, 2006

February Meeting: Child Care

Our topic this month was child care and, happily, nobody had reports of any true disasters with our kids. The discussion did not include any bombshells, but did confirm some of the following wisdom, with a few additions I tracked down when I got home:

• $12/hour is the market rate for babysitting our kids, which is about 2x the federal minimum wage (not everyone gave this exact answer, but the voices in stereo were good evidence of an equilibrium)

• ABA instruction ranges from $40 to $130 an hour, which makes it unrealistic to use behavioral therapists for child care.

• To find Board Certified Behavior Analysts, go to This directory does not say anything about the availability or rates of the people listed, and many names I recognized do already have
full time gigs, but it is a place to start. Also you can check whether a person really has a BCBA if they say they do.

• People who already know your child or similar children are generally worth chasing after, and that means people who work in the programs that serve the kids. School, recreation programs, and other families are the avenues through which you will find people.

• Craigslist is an inexpensive way to find people, but "you get what you pay for" in terms of selection. One person who used it got a sitter who left an expensive stroller on the sidewalk.

• Classroom assistant teachers in school age programs are more affordable than "behavioral" instructors, and preschool assistant teachers often do not have a college degree, so may accept rates closer to the $12 average, but are interested in working with special needs kids.

• Students in education programs, and particularly special education programs, may be interested in gaining experience. One of our members has had success posting at NYU's Education School. Pace and Hunter College also have special ed programs, and Columbia, Brooklyn College, and Rutgers have programs specific to training behaviorists.

• Sitters who have already worked with an ASD kid are likely to have picked up a great deal from home programmers and therapists, so it is always wise to announce your needs to your special needs parent friends who just may be willing to share somebody they used to hire before a kid started school, etc., etc.

Also, a few little pieces of organizational business:

I am working to find a location for us that will be more private and
suitable for hosting guest speakers and presentations by members.
One that looks promising is the new Houston Street Community Center
operated by University Settlement -- in the new apartment building at
Bowery & Houston. But, if we go there we may need to ask for
contributions to offset the (very modest) cost of the space. If you
find that deeply offensive, or if you know a group that might give a
grant to cover that expense, let me know.

And I have listed the group on the Schafer Autism Newsletter resource
list, and the Autism Speaks Expert Directory, so we may start to see
even more faces. The group is included in the resources section of a new pamphlet from Advocates for Children, which you can download at
Advocates for Children also has guides on topics like impartial
hearings and special needs preschools in NYC, at