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.
Link to The First Responders ALERT Training Program

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. 

Project Organization Click Here To Access The Guide

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.
Planning For Emergencies Including The Disability Community: Spatial Mapping Project

Find The Project Booklet PDF Here

Project description:
For emergency managers the planning time between emergencies, (peace time) is as important as the when the emergency hits.  It is only through an understanding of the population within the community that real progress can be made toward the inclusion and accommodation of protected populations such as individuals with disabilities.  We know through our outreach efforts that families of individuals with disabilities and their loved ones have been excluded from the planning process and have been denied access to the services available to the general population, both in time of access and in quality of that service.  In order to work toward a better understanding of the diversity within the community we are proposing a community mapping project. Knowing where everyone resides, in a manmade or natural disaster will facilitate the acquisition, positioning and deployment of hard and soft resources in an efficient and expeditious manner before during and after an emergency.

Through the use of special mapping we have created a map of the four contiguous counties of Hudson, Essex, Passaic and Bergen.  The benefit to such a map will be the greater understanding of the disability community’s population density and therefore add a dimension to the overall planning and implementation of emergency management services.
The maps will work as a valuable resource to emergency planners and community leaders as we all strive to service the community as a whole.  This is especially important in the densely populated counties mentioned as the resource allocation and deliverables during a time of emergency will be paramount to successful execution of the specific emergency situation.
The spatial mapping will be comprised of data sets obtained through census data and other data. 

1)A four county physical demographic map with the disability population density articulated to enhance the overall understanding that emergency planners, managers and local officials need if they are to plan to include the entire community.
2)Outreach to the local OEMs and others with an interest in emergency planning to understand and use the materials in the emergency planning process.
3)Produce a final training booklet with the final maps included.

Documentary Film Project
Link to project: Don't Foil My Plans


DON'T FOIL MY PLANS is a feature-length documentary about autism, creativity and coming of age. Award-winning director Ben Stamper follows the life and work of Justin Canha, a New Jersey based artist in his mid-twenties whose diagnosis places him in the middle of the autism spectrum. Determined to pursue a career in animation and illustration, Justin has given himself one year to land a full time job, find an apartment and lead an independent life. His parents have made it their mission to honor this goal, doing everything in their power to make Justin's dreams of independence a reality. As the title suggests, DON'T FOIL MY PLANS is a sensitive and poignant look at the new generation of people with autism who are seeking to enter the workforce and become active and visible members of mainstream society. This is the story about an artist seeking a career, a twenty-something seeking independence, a man-in-the-making whose dreams are bigger than his autism.

Noah's Ark Institute is proud to act as the fiscal sponsor for this valuable project.