The various activities of NAI will support and enhance the mission of the organization and address the needs in the community we serve.
Basket Full of Learning
The Basket Full of Learning program is an outreach program sponsored by the Noah’s Ark Institute and was established to provide developmentally appropriate toys for toddlers diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in underserved areas.
As recently stated in The New York Times:
Play is the work of all children because it lets them practice new skills, find new interests and develop mentally and physically. For a child with autism, the right kind of play at the right time is crucial. Play can help deliver some basic communication and life skills that may not come naturally.
Toddlers diagnosed with ASD often lack the developmental imaginative play skills associated with typically developing children. For instance, a child with ASD may stare at a spinning fan for hours or play with only one toy over and over rather than cook a pretend dinner, play dress up, pretend to bathe a baby or build a city of blocks. This inability to play often causes social skill deficits which make it difficult for a child to form relationships with his or her peers. The Basket Full of Learning program seeks to ensure that toddlers from underserved areas diagnosed with ASD have access to developmentally appropriate toys to help foster imaginary play and build necessary social skills. The key to the success of this program is the parental training component which is mandatory for the family to receive the basket of toys.
First Responders Training
Individuals with autism are seven times more likely to interact with first responders than the average non disabled person. This is according to the national office of the victims of crime. It is also true that there are many misconceptions by first responders on how to best interact effectively with the autism population. Due to the often counter intuitive presentation our loved ones with autism present in emergency situation they are extremely vulnerable. Training first responder must occupy a position of highest priority in our community. We must provide training programs which will help our first responders provide for the safety of our loved ones and also the safety of our first responders.
In order to make this program accessible and available to the greatest number of first responders we will obtain continuing education credits from the Office of Emergency Management for the State of New Jersey's Department of Health and Senior Services. Our goal is to present the program in a number of regional workshops throughout the state.
Calling For Campers
Families report that they are burdened and challenged over the summer months to find and send their children to appropriate summer camping programs. Summer is when the daily structure of the school based programs are replaced by summer activities. Socializing and camp activities are very important to our families. Calling For Campers is a campership stipend program which helps families pay for an appropriate summer camp experience for their child on the spectrum. This program is supported entirely on donations.
With a diagnosis of autism there comes a myriad of paperwork. From evaluations to reports, there are IFSPs of IEPs or behavioral plans. There is a tremendous need for families to feel confident in the decisions they are making when it comes to therapies and educational programs.
Families need tools to help them with simple organization of all the information so they can find the needed forms and evaluations from the various specialists and teams working with their child. project organization id an informational binder to help families get organized and feel in charge of the decision making process.