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

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Autistic Services Inc.
Current Issue:
Celebrating You

A tribute to our employees and community.
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Autistic Services Inc.
Spring is Here
See what we have in store for you this season.
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Autistic Services Inc.
Keep Your Eyes Open
Here's what happened in 2014 and will be happening in the year to come
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Autistic Services Inc.

Celebrating Familiar Faces
ASI enters 2014 celebrating anniversaries and announcing new and exciting events
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Autistic Services Inc.
Recognizing Community Partnerships
ASI honours the many organizations in the Western New York community that have opened their doors to ASI
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Autistic Services Inc.

New Beginnings
In this issue of IN TOUCH, ASI cuts the ribbon of a new school!
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Autistic Services Inc.

Run for Autism
In this issue of IN TOUCH, ASI announces the second annual Run the 'Burg for Autism. Don't miss it!
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Autistic Services Inc.

Making Their Mark
For this issue of IN TOUCH, ASI acknowledges over two dozen employees who have reached career milestones with the agency.
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Autistic Services Inc.
ASI Introduces the Ziggurat Model
Continuing our mission to provide services that focus on the needs of the individual, Autistic Services has recently adopted The Ziggurat Model...
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Autistic Services Inc.
2010 Year End Review
Last year we vowed to build on past successes and set our sights even higher. This year, with your help, the Arts Work Program has accomplished this goal, and more.
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Autistic Services Inc.

Autistic Services Inc. Bringing Autism Into the Homes
To help families face the challenge of finding the right environment for their child, Autistic Services has partnered with Coldwell Banker Chubb to assess prospective homes as being Sensory Safe for people with Autism.
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Autistic Services Inc.

Autistic Services Inc. The True Colors of Autism
From the beginning the autistic child sees and experiences the world in a way we do not. A fixation with sights, patterns, textures etc. lends itself to the language of the arts. Artists at ASI take up their brushes at an early age.
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Autistic Services Inc.

Autistic Services Inc. Walking on Sunshine
Clifford & Kathy Kepner have transformes 45 acres of land into an outdoor sensorium named "Sunshine Garden". For 3 years they have welcomed the people from ASI to drop in and commune with nature.
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Autistic Services Inc.

Autistic Services Inc.
My Trip To See Barack Obama
Of the nearly 304 million citizens of this country, only 1.5 million of them were lucky enough to attend the inauguration. Mariam was one of those lucky people. This is her story about her trip to see Obama.
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Autistic Services Inc.

Autistic Services Inc.

"It's All About Me."
Introducing Elizabeth Harzewski... A Poet. Writer. River Scientist. And Solver of Mysteries. There's no such thing as boring with Liz.
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Autistic Services Inc.

The Neil Sanders Show
For this issue we place the spotlight on Neil Anthony Sanders, and his new adventures in radio podcasting.
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Autistic Services Inc.

Autistic Services Inc.
Autism Awareness Month
Tell your friends that April is booked solid. Better yet, tell them that their month is booked too. Because this issue we are going to show you why April will be A Month to Remember...
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Autistic Services Inc.

Support is the Lifeline of Service
In this Winter 2007 issue, we acknowledge the ongoing support and contributions from members of our community.
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Autistic Services Inc.

 

Autism Ziggurat Model

The well-documented increase in the prevalence of autism over the past few decades has brought with it an explosion of interest in new treatments and supports. As a result, the autism community has experienced a great deal of progress in terms of how we understand people with autism, their needs, and strategies to support learning and growth. Whereas autism was once viewed as a somewhat rare form of developmental disability and general treatments for people with developmental disability were applied to people with autism and others alike, now we see the emergence of specialized interest in autism itself, influencing the creation of autism centers, research funding for autism, and new legislation.

ASI has followed these changes and incorporated new knowledge and ways of understanding people with Autism Spectrum Disorders into our practice. Until recently, however, there was no complete treatment model that (a) incorporated cutting edge knowledge about autism and (b) complemented the existing values and philosophy of ASI (e.g., positive behavior support, person centered planning for people with autism, etc.). ASI’s Executive Director, Veronica Federiconi, discovered The Ziggurat Model while attending a national autism conference. She instinctively understood its value for supporting people with Autism Spectrum Disorders and began to explore the possibility of using The Ziggurat Model at ASI. As she introduced the concepts to others, excitement about The Ziggurat Model began to spread throughout the agency. Upon first hearing the term “Ziggurat Model” it is common for people to ask “What is a ziggurat and how is it relevant to autism?” You may know that a ziggurat is a step pyramid with numerous levels, and so the term was adopted by the creators of the model to illustrate the need for supports for people on the autism spectrum on numerous levels of intervention (see figure 1). The Ziggurat Model emphasizes that supports for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders should address (a) Sensory and Biological Needs, (b) Need for Reinforcement, (c) Need for Visual or Tactile Supports, (d) Need to have Obstacles to Learning Removed, and (e) Need to Learn New Functional Skills. While none of these concepts are new, the requirement that single interventions address all five levels of the Ziggurat at the same time is new.

Autism Ziggurat Model

Perhaps the most important contribution of The Ziggurat Model is that it shifts the starting point for assessment from behaviors that result from autism (e.g., aggression, self-injurious behavior, etc.) to underlying characteristics of autism. While the analysis of behavior is still useful, it does not address characteristics of the disorder itself. To summarize, The Ziggurat Model guides support teams to address autism itself rather than surface behaviors by applying creative interventions that cross all five levels of the Ziggurat (figure 1).

Autism Ziggurat TrainerIt is important to note that The Ziggurat Model is a system
that guides comprehensive planning so that supports and interventions target underlying characteristics of autism. It does not determine the kind of strategies or treatments
to be incorporated into the resulting plans. In this way, The Ziggurat Model is a pragmatic system; we use what works for each person. Therefore, the plans that result from Ziggurat planning could include incidental teaching, discrete trials, operant behavioral analysis, positive behavior supports, functional communication training, social skills training, sensory integration, various communication strategies, schedules, and numerous other approaches. It all depends upon what the results of assessment suggest will be effective for each individual person.

ASI began its journey to build The Ziggurat Model into everyday practice in the summer of 2010 when the creators of the model visited us to provide six (6) full days of training to ASI staff members. Barry Grossman and Ruth Aspy are both doctors in clinical psychology who run a private practice in Texas. Through their experience with people on the autism spectrum, they recognized the need for a comprehensive planning system that addressed the population’s unique needs. Barry and Ruth worked closely with us while we began to understand The Ziggurat Model and learned how to apply it in our setting. In addition to all ASI staff members being trained on The Ziggurat Model, ten (10) selected staff members met the additional requirements to become Certified Ziggurat Facilitators. This involved additional training with Dr.’s Grossman and Aspy as well as practical field work. These ASI staff members now help to guide planning teams around the agency as they work to develop individualized plans for people receiving our services.

By the end of 2011, we plan to have developed individualized Ziggurat plans for every person receiving services in our major programs. Through this process, we expect to realize much progress and positive transformation as an organization. Most importantly, the children and adults we serve will benefit.

For questions about The Ziggurat Model, please contact Veronica Federiconi, Executive Director or Jeff Fox, Chief Operating Officer


New Social Skills Training Program

In 2010, ASI received a grant from the WNY DDSO Family Support Council to provide social skills training to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. While many people on the autism spectrum fare well academically, they often struggle socially. In adulthood, we know that social skills prove to be greater obstacles to success in life than do academic skills. Therefore, social skills are critical life skills for people with autism. ASI will run four social skills groups to be held in Williamsville and Buffalo. Each group will meet one week night and one Saturday per month. The agency is currently accepting applications and the program will start in February of 2011.


Autism Playground

Autistic Services completed a full renovation of the school playground this year. The new playground, which is nearly doubled in size, features two new slides, additional swings, a misting tent, a walking track, and green space. We look forward to seeing our kids making use of it in the spring. The project was funded in part by a generous grant from HSBC Bank US, NA Community & Philanthropic Services. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held when the weather breaks in 2011.


 

Two themes emerge as we look forward to the events planned for 2011: Empowerment and Individuality. In so many ways, across all of our programs, we are focusing on further individualized services and empowering our participants to be themselves. Implementation of the Ziggurat model is underway throughout the agency. If you have not already familiarized yourself with Ziggurat, please go to friendsofasi.org and learn more about this person-centered framework for designing strategies that help empower people with autism. After agency-wide training last year we are now in the process of creating new and innovative supports for our students and adults.

This year’s theater performance in June will feature a Broadwaystyle variety show, with each performer doing a song, dance, or other act of their choice. In previous years our actors have collectively chosen the script. This year each actor will create, write, and direct their own performance. It will be a show unlike any other! Our roster of art exhibits will include 2 solo shows. In July, ArtSpace Buffalo will host a Dan C. Retrospective Exhibition spanning his early years in the Arts Work program through to the present. Dan has been among our most talked about artists. Also in July, at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, James M.’s paintings of Buffalo architectural landmarks will be on view. The Historical Society exhibit will launch James and his work and introduce viewers to the range and depth of this exceptionally talented artist.

Our annual Education Program Yearbook is also celebrating this theme of individuality. The working yearbook title this year is “It’s All About Me.” Teachers and staff are submitting photos and text which recognize the individuality of each classroom. Recently our Music Instructor Miriam Minkoff shared some thoughts about letting our music group, No Words Spoken, empower themselves. She said, “After six years of giving the group musical direction I eventually learned to let go. My stepping back allowed the group’s members to take responsibility and control of what is, ultimately, something they created. Having the power to do what they enjoy doing made all the difference. The aesthetics changed overnight, our performances improved, and the community has become more engaged by our music.” We invite you to experience the excitement of these empowering events with us in 2011.

Veronica Federiconi,

Veronica Federiconi,
Executive Director