Creating meaningful opportunities that enrich the lives of people with autism, their families and their communities.

Autism Services Inc.

 

COVID-19 Information Page

Last Updated June 17, 2020 – new information is shown with NEW! so you can more easily find it.

NEW! Letter to Families regarding Summer School

June 16, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Family Members:

We are sending this letter to you to address questions that have risen concerning our summer school programming. As you may be aware, Governor Cuomo announced in May that there would be no in-person summer school this year, and that all instruction would be provided remotely.

However, on June 5 Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order pertaining to summer school (Order No. 202.37). This order allows for, but does not require, the provision of in-person summer schooling for special education students this year. This is also only allowable if there are no significant barriers to doing so, and if our school could be compliant with published health guidelines.

Autism Services quickly began evaluating our ability to meet the applicable health and educational requirements and guidelines. Additionally, Autism Services has sought the guidance of an independent medical consultant to help us gauge our readiness to open our program safely. After considering all factors (including the input of our independent medical consultant), we have determined that we cannot safely provide in-person summer school this year.

Our priority remains the health and safety of our students and staff. Without having the confidence that we can faithfully follow these guidelines, particularly with the short lead-up time to prepare, we cannot in good conscience open for in-person summer school.

We will continue with our plan to provide distance learning to students through access to online content and virtual video conferencing to students. Remote therapies will continue to be offered through a distance learning model as well.

Please know that as this situation progresses, we will continue to keep our families informed regarding any changes to student programming. It is our hope that, in time, we will be able to fully meet the safety, health and education requirements and guidelines. Until then, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,
Veronica Federiconi, Chief Executive Officer
Andrew Shanahan, Education Director

Update Letter to our Families

May 13, 2020

Dear Families,

As you know, OPWDD issued directives effective March 18, 2020 that suspended all day programs and prohibited visitors at our residences, except when clinically or medically necessary. Additionally, another directive effective March 25, 2020 suspended all community outings and home visits for all residential sites. I know that these last two months have been challenging for you. They have been for me as well, as I miss seeing our folks too.

In an effort to keep everyone connected with their family members, I issued iPads to all of our homes so that Facetime could be utilized for communication. Additionally, I provided iPads to families who requested them because they did not have the equipment of their own to communicate in this way. I, and other administrative staff, have also been reaching out to family members to offer assistance in any way we can. If we have not connected with you yet, please feel free to reach out to me directly if there is anything we can assist you with. I can be reached via email at vfedericoni@autism-services-inc.org or by phone 716-631-5777 ext. 318.

We have also been holding weekly Zoom meetings with our movement and Yoga instructor, our Day Hab Without Walls team, and our self advocates. It has been wonderful to see everyone interact in this new way and be able to connect with their friends during this difficult time. We have talked about the current situation, what we can do to protect ourselves, and how we can keep busy while at home.

Staff at the homes have also been encouraged to safely take people out into the community for walks where social distancing can be maintained. While the weather has not cooperated for this to be a daily occurrence, I know that staff are doing their best both in the home and outside to keep our folks engaged and active while at home.

As parts of the state get ready to re-open on May 15, we are also getting ready. Our Crisis Management Team continues to meet regularly to review all directives from the state and local level. We are examining ways to ensure our programs offer a safe environment in this new normal. We are reviewing our COVID-19 Response Plan to identify everything necessary to keep everyone safe and healthy when our programs do re-open. Lastly, we are actively monitoring our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies to ensure we can provide the necessary equipment for staff and individuals if masks will continue to be required.

I cannot express how much I appreciate your patience as we have navigated this crisis together. It has not been an easy time for anyone, and we are all doing our best, and will continue to do so. I look forward to when I can notify you that our programs are opening back up and we will all be together again. I will be monitoring the directives issued by OPWDD closely so that as soon as we can re-open safely, we will.

Lastly, I wanted to acknowledge and recognize our staff. From our DSPs, nurses, facilities team, and management, I have never been more proud of the dedication of our employees. In big and small ways, they have stepped up to this challenge without hesitation and I have taken comfort knowing that our all of our folks are in such great care.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Sincerely,
Veronica Federiconi
Chief Executive Officer

ASI needs Face Masks and Aprons!

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. We are seeking volunteers who are able to donate their time and resources to help us by sewing masks for our dedicated Direct Support Professionals and other support staff.

Please visit this link for additional information and instructions for sew and no-sew instructions. If you are able to help, please leave us a message at 716-631-5777 ext 380 and a member of our team will reach out to you.

NEW! PPE Gowns are in short supply. We are looking for volunteers to make aprons that our staff can wear instead of gowns. For more information, please call us!

Status of Programs and Services

Education program closed until the fall.
– Download our Summer School Calendar here.
– Download our 2020-2021 School Calendar here.
FSS Programs – TRAC, After School, In Home Respite suspended until further notice
Social Skills and In Home Behavior Support are working on remote service delivery options. Stay tuned for more information.
Supplemental Day Hab services suspended until further notice.
Day Habilitation: Hertel, South Long, Without Walls – services suspended until further notice.
Employment Services – services suspended until further notice.
NEW! Residential – visitors allowed as of June 19, 2020. Please contact the manager of the site to schedule a visit with your loved one. Guidelines will be in place for all visits, including, but not limited to, masks, social distance, screening questions and temperature checks.

ASI Staff

Please check Paylocity for communication and updates from the Crisis Management Team throughout this crisis.

Resources for Families

Our teachers are working on videos for families to watch with our students. Please visit our Educational Videos page to view.

Find Speech Therapy Resources here

Find Occupational Therapy Resources here

Social Stories
NEW! Social Story about Wearing Masks (pdf)
Social Story about Distance Learning (pdf)
Social Story about Distance Learning (powerpoint)
Social Story about COVID-19 school closure
Overview of COVID-19 describes what COVID-19 is and how to protect yourself and can be used to help your loved one make sense of what is happening in the world right now.
Staying Home for Now can help you explain to your loved one why it is important to stay at home during this crisis.

Useful Links

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/
World Health Organization (WHO): https://www.who.int/
Department of Health: https://www.health.ny.gov/
Erie County Department of Health: http://www2.erie.gov/health/index.php?q=coronavirus
New York State Education: http://www.nysed.gov/
Office for People With Developmental Disabilities: https://opwdd.ny.gov/
American Sign Language videos from the CDC regarding COIVD-19:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvrp9iOILTQatwnqm61jqFrsfUB4RKh6J

NEW! Feeling Stressed?

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations like COVID-19. You may feel anxious, mad, sad, or overwhelmed. Find ways you and your family can reduce stress.
• Learn the common signs of stress.
• Make time to unwind and do activities you enjoy.
• Talk with family and friends by phone, text, or email.
• If you or a loved one is feeling overwhelmed, get support 24/7 by calling 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
Learn more about stress and coping during the COVID-19 outbreak: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html.

Questions? Contact our Crisis Management Team

If you have specific questions, please call 631-5777 x 380 and leave a message or email us. Thank you again for your patience as we continue our attempts to provide consistent messages during an ever-changing crisis situation.

ASI’s Crisis Management Team has developed and implemented a COVID-19 Response Plan which can be downloaded here. Please note that information is ever changing and this document will be updated as needed. All information is only accurate up until the date and time indicated on the top of the Plan.

Initial Letter to Families and Staff of ASI

March 14, 2020

Autism Services, Inc. is carefully monitoring the developing situation regarding COVID-19. We recognize there is a great deal of fear, anxiety and uncertainty regarding the virus and its effect on our region. We share your concerns and are working hard to minimize the risk of infection. The safety of the people we support, their families, and our employees is of the utmost importance.

We have mobilized our Crisis Management Team to ensure we are taking appropriate action based on the current situation, and to develop a response plan for any future possibilities. We are carefully reviewing guidelines and recommendations from the Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, the Office for People with Development Disabilities and the State Education Department, as well as other state and federal governmental agencies.

We have already implemented the recommended prevention activities across all of our locations to pre-screen non-agency staff, encourage infection control and cleaning/disinfecting procedures. We have developed resources for our staff to use with the people we support who may be experiencing concerns or anxiety over what they are seeing or hearing about the virus.

We are asking all staff and families to use an abundance of caution and refrain from coming to work or program if they:
– have traveled to any country designated as Level 2 or 3 by the CDC in the last 14 days
– had contact with any Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) for COVID-19 within the last 14 days, OR with anyone with known COVID-19
– have any symptoms of a respiratory infection (e.g., cough, sore throat, fever, or shortness of breath)

We will continue to monitor this situation and will make decisions based on the best and most current public health guidance available, and will keep you informed of any changes that may be implemented.

During this time we ask that you contact our Crisis Management Team if you have any questions rather than asking our program staff. You can email us or call 716-631-5777 ext 380 and a member of the team will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thank you for your patience and consideration as we work through this ongoing situation.

Veronica Federiconi, Chief Executive Officer

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