Posts Tagged ‘PS 163’

Special Needs Events in NYC – May 2012

Seminars, concerts, workouts, conferences, even yoga sessions – don’t say you were bored this month! Sorry for the last minute posting on some of these – it took forever to combine all of the May event emails (which is kind of a good thing).


Ongoing, every Sunday in May (and June): WSLL, Challenger’s division. Special needs baseball at Riverside Park. Late registration available – email me for details.


Tuesday, May 8, 6:30PM

Managing Your Child’s Behavior: Tools and Strategies for Parents, with Dominick Auciello, PsyD, Child Mind Institute

PS 163 Auditorium, 163 W. 97th St. (Amsterdam/Columbus)
Dominick Auciello, PsyD, is a leading neuropsychologist with extensive expertise providing neuropsychological assessments to children, teens, and young adults with learning and psychiatric issues. He is widely respected for his knowledge of how neuropsychological evaluations relate to a child’s school and home environments.  Among Dr. Auciello areas of expertise are dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), developmental language disorders, and concussions.
To attend, you must RSVP to Andi Velasquez by stopping by the P.S. 163 main office, calling (212) 678-2854, ext. 0, or emailing Spots will be given on a first come, first serve basis.


Dr. Ravitz, “Raising Resilient Children” in partnership with Tuesday’s Children @ The Conference Center, 130 East 59th Street  New York, NY 10022, 6-8pm in NYC



Dr. Dickstein, “Raising Healthy Children in a Digital World” @ 92nd Street Y: 6:30 – 8pm


FRIDAY MAY 11, 12:00-1:00PM

Live Speak Up for Kids Facebook Event: Dr.Fernandez, “Managing Problem Behavior: Strategies for Parents and Educators”, 


May 12 in Central Park, Achilles Kids Workout – call 212-354-0300. ext. 305 for more info.



May 15th
10AM – 1PM
Understanding the New IEP Lori Podvesker, M.S. Ed., Family and Community Educator, Resources for Children with Special Needs
  • Pre-registration is required by calling YAI LINK at 212-273-6182.
  • Parents and caregivers only! No children please.
  • Location: 460 West 34th Street, 11th floor, New York, NY 10001
  • Structure: 1st half (Presentation), 2nd half (Support)
  • Fee: None!


May 18, 9:00AM at PS 163 (W. 97th and Amsterdam) – final meeting of The Foorce, “Special Needs Summer Activities and Programs”


May 19 at JCC – Achilles Kids Workout – call 212-354-0300. ext. 305 for more info.


May 20

DMF Spring Concert – “We Will Rock You – A Musical Celebration.” It will be a high energy performance and will have you singing, dancing and “rockin out” in your seats with performances like – I Love Rock N Roll, Aquarius, This Love, a song medley from Elvis, Born To Be Wild, Bohemian Rhapsody, among many others!

The Dalton School
108 East 89th St. (between Lexington and Park Ave.)
1:00PM-2:30PM and/or 4:00PM-5:30PM.

Please RSVP if you will be able to attend by using Eventbrite – or if you prefer, contact us at or 212-289-8912.


Wednesday, May 23

Resources for Children With Special Needs presents: Friendship, Dating, & Sexuality: A Free Symposium for Parents and Professionals

Where: Credit Suisse , 11 Madison Avenue (24th Street) Entrance on Park Avenue South at 24th Street


Dr. Michelle S. Ballan, Assistant Professor of Social Work, Columbia University, Leading researcher, writer, professor, mentor, and advocate, disability studies and sexuality; recipient of numerous awards, including the Columbia University Presidential Teaching Award, Services for Students with Disabilities Faculty Award, Association on Higher Education and Disability Recognition Award, and others.

Dr. Chris Rosa, PhD, Dean of Students at CUNY, Serves on several local and national committees on disabilities, is a published disability studies scholar, and a faculty member at CUNY’s MA program in Disabilitiy Studies. A product of New York City public education, Chris was born, raised in, and presently resides in Flushing, Queens.  

Brian Schwanwede, Student, Sophomore at Fairleigh Dickinson University (Honors List), English Major, Film Studies Minor, FDU Equinox Newspaper, National Society of Leadership and Success, The National Society of Collegiate ScholarsCOMPASS:  College-based Support for Students with Asperger Syndrome

5pm Coffee Reception with Panelists, 5:30pm Program

Please do not hesitate to call RCSN with any questions: 212-677-4650


May 24th
10AM – 12:30PM
Yoga and Relaxation Laura Mitchell, LMSW, LMT, YAI LINK, Certified Kripalu Yoga Instructor
  • Pre-registration is required by calling YAI LINK at 212-273-6182.
  • Parents and caregivers only! No children please.
  • Location: 460 West 34th Street, 11th floor, New York, NY 10001
  • Structure: 1st half (Presentation), 2nd half (Support)
  • Fee: None!


May 26 at JCC – Achilles Kids Workout – call 212-354-0300. ext. 305 for more info.


May 31st
10AM – 12:30PM
“Hey! Get Back Here!” Learning to Manage Wandering and Elopement in the Community Lana Small, MSW, Coordinator, Project A.S.S.I.S.T.

Mary Downing, BA, Senior Supervisor, Project A.S.S.I.S.T.

  • Pre-registration is required by calling YAI LINK at 212-273-6182.
  • Parents and caregivers only! No children please.
  • Location: 460 West 34th Street, 11th floor, New York, NY 10001
  • Structure: 1st half (Presentation), 2nd half (Support)
  • Fee: None!


June 2 – Central Park Challenge – CLICK HERE TO JOIN The Foorce!!


Feel free to email me if you need more information or if there are typos regarding any of the above events. Or, you can add your own events in the comments section below. I’m also collecting event emails for June now through the last week of May so keep them coming!

This Friday, April 27th – Special Needs Summer Activities and Resources (Final Meeting of the 2011-2012 School Year)!

April 23, 2012 3 comments

I can’t believe it, but this Friday, April 27th, is our final meeting at PS 163 of The Foorce.

Because I sadly have had to cancel Lydia (insufficient funding, trying to reschedule), the meeting this week will be all about providing resources for summer activities and camps – I’ve collected more than a few over the last couple months of camp fairs and conferences and I’m looking to share. This meeting will also offer an opportunity to find out about and sign up for the casual social group that has met weekly for the last 3 summers – absolutely free and a great social outlet if your child isn’t booked up for the summer.

Anyone and everyone with a special needs friend or loved one is invited to join us – the meeting will be from 9:00am until everyone leaves and small children are welcome (I’m bringing 2!). As usual, the meeting will be held at PS 163 (corner of W. 97th and Amsterdam) and will be in the cafeteria or auditorium depending on availability.

Hope to see you on Friday!

First Foorce Meeting October 21, 9am: Extracurricular and Social Activities with Special Guest Speakers

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Hooray – the first Cafe 163 meeting is next month and I am finally organized enough to tell you about what to expect! On October 21st at 9am, I can’t wait to welcome two special guests who will speak about some incredible opportunities for special needs students and their families this year.

Ken McGrory is returning this year to talk about the Save Haven basketball league – come hear him discuss what’s new this year! The  Champions division is now in its 12th year and is open to all children with special needs. The boys and girls, aged 6 to 22, have different issues including ADD, ADHD, Autism, emotional issues, and various physical challenges. The division is split into four groups, flexibly based upon age, ability, social considerations, maturity and size factors. The division is primarily operated by parent volunteers and buddies. Buddies are volunteers (including high school kids and adults) who come out and work directly with the children in building their skills and their self esteem. The division has grown from its original season of approximately 20 players to over 80 players at this time. It has been a fantastic experience for James, not to mention a way to burn some energy and calories during the colder months.

In addition, I am thrilled to announce that Karen Lewis will be speaking at Cafe 163 for the first time. Karen Lewis is the director of Achilles Kids, a free running, walking and rolling program for children with all types of disabilities that is a part of Achilles International. As director, Lewis is responsible for coordinating year-round Achilles Kids weekend events, managing a large portion of Achilles Kids’ PR for both general promotion and specific events and administering more than 150 school chapters of Achilles Kids in New York, where the organization is based. This is especially family-friendly as many weekend events include typical siblings and parents, too! A great way for everyone to get out and about together on Saturdays, not to mention a way to exercise as a family!

In addition to our two amazing speakers, information will be available for:

Sunday Circle, a 2-hour drop off program filled with fun and exciting activities. Parents have the opportunity to drop off their child and enjoy time out while their child has a blast in a trustworthy environment. Sunday Circles allow you to leave your child in the loving hands of qualified professionals and one-on-one teen friends. FREE

West Side Little League, Challenger division, Spring 2012 (special needs baseball).

Cub Scouts/ Boy Scouts, inclusive environments for special needs boys.

Plus more on peer/buddy programs, art classes, cooking instruction, respite opportunities, exercise programs, bowling, swimming lessons, martial arts, and private/group music lessons for the special needs community.

The meeting on October 21st will begin at 9am and will last approximately 1 hour. As of right now, the plan is to meet in the auditorium of PS 163 on W. 97th and Amsterdam. As always, feel free to email me or leave a comment if you have questions.

There will be special handouts, Foorce slogan contest info (see post), and a 2011 event calendar passed out at the meeting. I’m really hoping for and looking forward to an even bigger turnout than last year, and can’t wait to see everyone again!

On Your Mark, Get Set….

Yesterday started the beginning of a very busy, chaotic, unscheduled period for James. If you know anything about people with ASD and the importance of schedules you know I’ll probably have a lot of material to draw on after the next few days. Yesterday was Field Day at school, a.k.a lots of competitive team sports games in Central Park a.k.a lots of 4th grade boys yelling over who made who lose and who is the best in 80 degree heat a.k.a potential for a complete and total meltdown by James.

On top of all of his issues James is also physically disabled – he truly can’t compete with his 2 year old sister, let alone a bunch of 4th grade boys who think that winning the tennis ball on a spoon relay race is the only thing that matters today. To further complicate matters, James doesn’t realize that he is not as good at running with a tennis ball on a spoon as everyone else, so he doesn’t understand why anyone would accuse him of “losing the race” for his team. James also doesn’t understand the game rules and will often be accused of “cheating” or think someone is “trying to steal the ball from him.” All of these issues have come up in several gym classes this year – in fact, gym is one of the most difficult yet favorite days of the week for James. It is as if he thinks it is going to be different every week, that he will be able to keep up with the other kids if they just change sports, or months.

Just like James doesn’t understand that he is not able to keep up with the NDI dance moves that the rest of the 4th grade has learned for their big end of the year dance performance today. Performances, I mean, three of them. Thinking about James making it through the day in one piece sends a thrill of fear through me, especially after watching his mid-year performance in December. The NDI program at PS 163 is really neat, and the performance in December was entertaining and impressive. There was a lot of cheering, loud music, fast dance moves, and “I can’t hear you” action going on, and though many people came up before and afterward to tell me how impressed they were with James being up there, it was heartbreaking to watch him “fake yawn” his way through the entire event. A fake yawn is James’s way of crying but pretending that he isn’t – he does it more and more as he gets more upset and it is killer to watch from afar. As his parent, his advocate, and his cheerleader it was incredibly hard to watch him struggle to keep up with everyone on the stage during the dances, and then watch him struggle to stay composed in front of everyone as they took turns screaming louder and louder for their favorite teacher, dance or just to cheer in general. The worst part was when they called James’s teachers’ names – his class screamed really loud, and James, determined to fit in, screamed really loud too, while sobbing. Ugh.

Afterward, James told me he had a great time and genuinely seemed proud of his performance and for staying up there through the entire event. I on the other hand questioned every decision I ever made to put him in a “typical” environment. Though it hasn’t been a perfect fit and it was a very difficult decision, my husband and I have always fought to have James in a public school CTT class so that he could be around typical peers and learn typical social interaction firsthand. Does James feel like he has to fit in at the expense of his comfort and happiness? Does he want to do be around these kids? Does he know he has a choice other than suffering through what other people enjoy? Or, is it good for him to learn how to fit in and for him to learn how to “deal” in uncomfortable and scary situations, a.k.a real life when mom and dad aren’t around? You have just visited my stream of consciousness during James’s fake yawn sessions.

Friday is a field trip with the 4th grade. Field trips make me nervous on many fronts. Will James remember to go to the bathroom? Will he be okay on the school bus, or worse yet, the subway (We have had some scary incidents with James stepping into the space between the platform and subway)? Will there be any performances or loud noises on the trip? Will he eat anything all day or be too excited and forget? Will anyone hang out with him or will he be all by himself on the trip?

James is very excited about NDI today and about his field trip tomorrow. If I ever dared suggest he sit out field day or NDI or a field trip he would be very upset. James is also excited when we say we’re going to a fair, amusement park, or beach until we get there and he realizes that there are balloons at the fair, fast rides at the amusement park or waves in the water at the beach.

So back to yesterday – field day at Central Park. I didn’t want to show up unless I was needed because often James is fine until he sees me and then he feels more comfortable getting upset – I’m sure many of you have experienced this phenomena with your own children. So I stationed myself at a nearby playground in Central Park with the babies and waited to see if anyone would text me with “Come get James.” Nobody did. When I went to pick him up from school his teachers told me it went really well. James told me on the way home that “it was close” on his tug of war and ring toss, and that he almost made some baskets in basketball. We talked about how winning wasn’t important and he seemed okay. No dramatics, no tears. The end.

So maybe I’m overreacting – maybe it’s not as bad as I think it is, maybe James has just grown out of it. Honestly, I don’t think so – did you read my post about last weekend? I think his teachers were as pleasantly surprised as I was yesterday. I think his awesome para (his aide at school) is a big part of the reason he did so well and she won’t be able to sit on stage with him during NDI. I am still nervous as hell about today, and I have a pit in my stomach when I think about James getting through all three performances with the cheering contests, loud music and fast-paced dancing.

I always say that my biggest goal for James is for him to learn life skills – coping skills and social skills – so that when I’m gone he is able to have relationships with others and deal with real life when I’m not there to shield him from it. Well, these are the beginnings of that goal becoming reality – it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. And what’s the worst that is likely to happen? It will probably be okay, even if there are tears and a bad night or two involved. Probably, like James, I need to learn how to let go and just get through it sometimes.

Meeting tomorrow, May 6th – location updated!

I hope to see you at tomorrow’s meeting! It is our last Special Needs Cafe 163 of the school year and will feature speaker Dina Shanowitz of The Friendship Circle ( as well as offer the opportunity to sign up for free DMF concert tickets (limited tickets available), the summer activity group, and our Central Park Challenge team “The Foorce.”  Hard copies of the summer activity packets will also be available.

We have been meeting in the auditorium lately, but due to several other events at PS 163 we will be meeting on the 2nd floor in the library. Just tell security you are here for Cafe 163 when you sign in. The meeting will start at 9a.m.

Upcoming meeting reminder – May 6, 2011

Just a reminder that once we are back from Spring break, there will be another meeting at PS 163 on May 6th, at 9a.m. This might be our last meeting of the school year, so please try to attend if you can!

The featured speaker will be Dina Shanowitz of The Friendship Circle (see my separate post). There will be the opportunity to sign up for the Central Park Challenge and the informal social group that meets over the Summer. Also, information about Special Needs Soccer for the Fall and future meeting topics will be available, as well as hard copies of the Summer Activities document I have been handing out at the past few meetings. Lastly, you can RSVP to the fantastic DMF concert on May 22nd at the meeting (see separate post for more details).

Hope to see you there! Keep an eye out for new posts this weekend and early next week – I’ve been home with all three kids for Spring break so my free time is virtually nonexistent.

Happy Easter to all who are celebrating this weekend!

May 6, 9am – Meeting at PS 163, featuring Dina Shanowitz of The Friendship Circle

One of my biggest worries in life is that James will end up alone, without meaningful relationships, when he grows up. One of the main reasons we have kept him in a CTT class setting rather than a contained class or private school is so he can pick up typical social behavior and learn how to interact with his peers. Of course, there are plenty of typical kids we’d rather he not be friends with – kids can be so mean and thoughtless. But the hope is always to take the good and accept that there are negative consequences to everything, it is the careful game of balancing we play.

So The Friendship Circle is especially intriguing to me. Below is an excerpt taken from their website at

The Friendship Circle’s unique approach brings together teenage volunteers and children with special needs for hours of fun and friendship. These shared experiences empower children with special needs, while enriching the lives of everyone else involved:

Children with special needs bloom and gain the confidence they need to make the most of their abilities and talents.

Teenage volunteers learn the priceless value of giving, the curative power of friendship, and the vital importance of integrating children with special needs into the community.

Parents and siblings receive much-needed needed respite and support from Friendship Circle programs and the Friendship Circle family.

The fact is, the Friendship Circle links volunteers, children, parents, staff, and supporters in a seamless circle of friendship that makes miracles happen every day.

I encourage you to attend the meeting on May 6th at 9am to meet Dina and learn more about this program. There will be the opportunity to sign up for the Central Park Challenge as well as the Summer Family group that meets twice weekly to give everyone a chance to stay in touch and socialize. I will also have more copies of the Extracurricular Summer Activities and Camps handout from the last meeting. I look forward to seeing you there!

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