(Brooklyn, NY)— You hear it again and again—the incidence of autism is on the rise. In fact, according to the latest statistics, 1 in 166 children are diagnosed with autism and reported cases are growing at a rate of 10-17% each year.
With all these children needing services, HeartShare Human Services of New York is proud to be responding to the needs of the community by opening its new HeartShare School. This program is for school-age children with autism and mental retardation from all five boroughs. Located at St. Finbar’s
School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, children ages 5 through 14 are eligible for services.
Scheduled to open in February, this program is unique to Brooklyn in that it will primarily follow the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) approach with the emphasis on discreet trial learning. Some components of the TEACCH methodology and Picture Exchange Communication System will also be used. Started at the urging of parents who had gone to NY State Senator Martin Golden to seek ABA-based educational services for their children, the program will have five classrooms, each structured with class-room style learning and speech, occupational and physical therapies. Additionally,
each classroom will have adapted computers, touch screen monitors and specialized program software that addresses the learning needs of children with disabilities.
"HeartShare has had a great deal of success teaching children with autism in our four pre-school programs," noted President and CEO William R. Guarinello. "That is why parents turned to us to start a program for older children. There were no appropriate educational services in Brooklyn for
many of these families."
Senator Martin Golden stated, "I am excited that as a partner with HeartShare Human Services, the dreams of the parents who have approached me seeking the best educational opportunities for their autistic children right here in our community will come true. For too long, Brooklyn’s autistic community has been underserved despite the rising numbers of those diagnosed. In that notion, we are going to provide at St. Finbar’s School a state of the art school that is ready to teach the autistic children of our community. We have done a unique and important thing in the planning
and establishment of this school. In doing so, we will make better the lives of many now and in the future, for through HeartShare, they will receive an excellent and solid education."
When at full capacity, The HeartShare School will provide full-day educational services to 48 children. "We still have open placements," said Carol Verdi, Vice President of Educational Services at HeartShare. "Children from all five boroughs are eligible, but must be on the Pending Needs list through the Central Base Support Team within the New York City Department of Education.
HeartShare is excited about the opening of this new program to meet the needs of students in the community. "Families have been an integral part of the planning process," said Ms. Verdi, "and we will ensure that they remain involved as we move forward."
For more information about The HeartShare School, contact HeartShare Human Services at (718) 323-2877 or visit www.heartshare.org.