In this Issue
A Blue Light Shines Outside My Home 365 Days A Year.   - A Note from Sarah Rudaitis, SEPTA Co-President
I have the greatest opportunity of my life - to love and raise a child in the Harborfields community, who happens to also have a disability.  I am a mom who wants what every other mom wants for her children - for my child to be welcomed, have friends, feel loved, and be successful.

The feeling of being accepted in the community for exactly who our children are, while providing a supportive educational environment, and nurturing them into who they want to become - are things we at SEPTA work on every day.
Let's leave the blue light on beyond April, become beacons on our blocks who invite all kids in the neighborhood and class for playdates, pool parties, and birthday celebrations - no matter the mess, and become members of SEPTA even if your child does not have a disability, to demonstrate that as parents we are all in this together.

Speaking of community, a huge thank you to everyone - BOE members, parents, educators, neighbors, SEPTA board members, and especially Dr. Ianni - who supported SEPTA's "Slice with the Superintendent" at Johnny D's this month!
Please join us on April 20th as Dr. Lauren Gallagher, psychologist at TJL, discusses the New York Times bestselling positive parenting book, "The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children" by Dr. Shefali Tsabary (here are two excerpts):
"When you parent, it's crucial you realize you aren't raising a "mini me," but a spirit throbbing with its own signature."
"Whether you have an infant or a teen, your children need to feel that just because they exist, they delight you. They need to know they don't have to do anything to earn your undivided attention. They deserve to feel as if just by being born, they have earned the right to be adored."
Dr. Tsabary is a frequent guest on Oprah.  Additional details about the book club discussion are below. We hope to see you!
Now is the time that SEPTA begins to think about next year.  If you are interested in becoming more involved, have an idea for a program or suggestion to support parents and students - please connect with us!
-Sarah Rudaitis, Co-President, SEPTA
   SEPTA HIGHLIGHTS - Don't Miss these Dates!

The SEPTA Scholarships deadline is Monday, April 17th.
We are particularly interested in 
characteristics of perseverance, self-motivation, 
courage, stamina and self-direction with future goals.
Pick up an application in the HHS Guidance Office 

Don't Miss Our April 20th "Second Cup of Coffee" 
It's a PTA Book Club!
Dr. Gallagher, psychologist at TJL, will join us 
to discuss concepts, themes and specific parenting "takeaways" 
from the Best Selling Parenting Book "The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children"
Check out this video of Dr. Shefali Tsabary! 

Thursday, April 20th
Time7:00 - 9:00 PM 
7:00-8:00 Book Discussion
8:00-9:00 Support Group
Location:  HHS, Guidance room
It's not necessary to have read the book,  however if you would like to pick up a copy / audio version there are several on hold at the Harborfields Public Library.
Get Involved! 
SEPTA Board Member Recruitment Underway
If you or someone you know might be interested in learning about 
 board positions or serving on our 2017/18 board please contact 
All forms must be submitted by April 14th, 2017.
Highlights   SEPTA Fundraiser Update
Here's the Update:
The atmosphere was bustling at SEPTA's "Have a Slice with the Superintendent" fundraiser at Jonny D's on March 21st ! Due to the wonderful support of all who attended, SEPTA was able to raise nearly $1,000 to be put toward scholarships 
for students with special needs in Harborfields School District.
Remind me, what was this?
Originally billed as "Pizza Pi Day" and scheduled for March 14, the event had to be re-scheduled to March 21st due to the snow day. But what a festive mood it was! At one point, the line was out the door as everyone crammed in to take out pizzas and heroes, talk with Superintendent, Dr. Ianni, and help SEPTA raise some "dough!"
We Are Thankful
We are grateful to Dr. Ianni for coming to support SEPTA's cause and lending us his pizza-making talents! We are also thankful to Jonny D's who donated 15% of all profits raised during the event, as well as to the people who purchased raffle tickets. 
A huge thank you to the many administrators, teachers, and parents who helped make this event such a fantastic success!
Happy Spring! Lots of exciting things have been blooming here at Harborfields!  
Washington Drive Primary School

At WDPS, unexpected visitors arrived at Ms. Kasin's class!
Thomas J. Lahey Elementary School

At TJL, we will be celebrating Autism Awareness on April 7th by having the students all wear blue to coincide with Autism Speaks "Light it Up Blue" campaign.  Pictures to come!
In the 5th grade students were celebrating other countries and sharing the fun by presenting to other students and parents on all the information they have learned! 
Oldfield Middle School

At OMS, students have been participating in the Lunch Bunch where students are planning a Family Feud game for the school and working on social situations at the same time! Check out these smiling faces!

9th grade integrated co-teaching Global class just completed their 3rd quarter project. The students created a Facebook page for a Greek City-State and shared it through Google Classroom!
Join us in wearing blue on April 7th! We are in the midst of Annual Reviews, please know we are here for any questions you may have throughout this process.
Thank you!
Did Did You Know?
A HUGE WIN!! Supreme Court Decision in Endrew F. Focuses on 
Mainstreaming, Progress, and Designing IEPs to Meet Child's 'Unique Needs'
On March 22, 2017, the United States Supreme Court, ruled that students with disabilities must receive an educational plan that will allow them to make more than trivial progress.  This represents an important victory for students. 
Read more about the ruling >  Learn more about the history of this case >

Julia, A Muppet With Autism, Joins The Cast Of 'Sesame Street'
For the first time in a decade, the classic children's television show Sesame Street will introduce a new Muppet on the air. Julia will become its first-ever character with autism. She will be introduced to the show in April in a segment where she meets Big Bird, but shows reluctance in shaking his hand. Elmo then has to help explain to a saddened and hurt Big Bird that Julia has autism, "so sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things." Learn more >

AMAZING Social Skills Resources for all Ages Below! 
Downloads that Help Build Social Skills:
If your child uses any of these apps and would like to write a short review please send it to title "SEPTA Game Review". I will publish all in our next newsletter. This could be helpful for other children and parents especially with summer break coming up!
Helpful Articles:
Don't forget there are also some great social skill classes and groups in the area. Areilla's Friendship Circle (see below in our calendar of events) run year long as do several groups facilitated by local children psychologists or social workers. The ones we have attended my child has loved! 

April is Autism Awareness Month
April is Autism Awareness Month. This is the designated month to spread awareness of and share positive, respectful, and accurate information about autism across our communities. Promoting acceptance and celebration of autistic people as family members, friends, classmates, co-workers, and community members making valuable contributions to our world.  
Be accepting. Reach out. Make a difference. Not just in April but any time throughout the year.
  • In addition to awareness what we need is more understanding. 
  • We need to hear and learn more from disabled advocates. 
  • We need to fight for more accessibility and fight against discrimination. 
Some Places to go to Learn More: 
  • Tons of wonderful reading resources can be found on this site.
  • Watch the PBS documentary - "Spectrum: A Story of the Mind" looks at autism through the lens of taste, smell, touch, sight and sound. The 23-minute film airs on April 4th.  
Continue to Teach Your Children to be Accepting:
Take Action on Autism Advocacy and Lobbying Day in Albany, April 3, 2017: 
  • We need your help to be heard in NY.  Details including the agenda can be found in this document.
  • Share this information with friends and families 
  • Please ask organizations you belong to to endorse the lobbying day 
  • Gather a group to come with you 
  • Make appointments to see your State Senator and Assembly member
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localLocal Events & Programs

(There are events for all ages under 25) 

A Special Night at ADVENTURELAND for Individuals with Autism
Who: Individuals with autism, their families & friends
Friday, April 7th, 6:30 - 9:30 PM
Adventureland, Farmingdale 

Butler Special Needs Center: Saturday Night Teen Lounge
Ages: 12-21 
Saturday  4/1, 4/22, 5/6, 5/20, 6/3 
6:00 - 9:00 pm
74 Hauppauge Road, Commack, Room 10

Swim, play video games, shoot hoops, create arts & crafts, watch a movie, & more! Register at front desk.
Fees: Members $20, Non-Members $30 

Madagascar A Musical Adventure - Sensory Friendly
Ages: All 
Wednesday, April 12th at 1:00 PM
Engeman Theater, Northport

Fee: $15/seat. See flyer for details.

Everything Special Needs Easter Egg Hunt
Ages: All 
Thursday, April 13th 5:30-8:30 PM
Special Needs Day of Fun
Ages: 1 - 6
Sunday, April 23rd 12 - 2:00 PM
Massapequa Park
This looks so fun and is only $2.00 / child!
Advanced Registration required. See Flyer for details.

Stony Brook University's Fourth "Music and ASD" Event
Ages: 15 - 25 
Sunday 4/23  2:00 - 3:00 PM
Music Building (Fine Arts 1) of the Stony Brook University Staller Center
Autism Friendly Event. Children can visit different rooms to listen and play with instruments from the orchestra and world music ensembles. Musicians will be performing familiar pieces of classical music and Disney songs. Limited Space & Registration Required. For questions call 631-632-7857.
Register Here>

Butler Special Needs Center: Life Skills Club
Ages: 15 - 25 
Sunday 4/23, 5/7, 6/4  10:30 am - 12:00 
74 Hauppauge Road, Commack, Room 27
Increase independence & prepare to enter the workforce.  
Fees: Y Members $150, Non-Members $180. Register Elizabeth Haft, 631.462.9800 ext. 142 or

Butler Special Needs Center: Teen & Tween Social Group
Ages: 12-21 
Sundays- 4/23, 5/7, 5/21, 6/4  
12:00 - 1:30 pm
74 Hauppauge Road, Commack 
Participants will build social, self-advocacy & effective communication skills while engaged in recreational activities with others. 
Priced per session: members-$20  
Non-Members- $25

Sunday Lunch Bunch
Ages: 12-21 
Sundays- 4/23, 5/7, 5/21, 6/4   
1:30 - 3:00 pm
74 Hauppauge Road, Commack, Room 24
Participants learn to clean, cook, & work together as a team. Register at front desk Fees: Members $20, Non-Members $25

Ariella's Friendship Circle offers
Puppy Fun, Bowling Buddies, ZUMBA Kids, Teen Scene, Soccer and Hip Hop Fun. 
Check out her website for the April & May schedules.

Sensory Friendly Performance:
The Adventures of Peter Rabbit
Theater Three 412 Main Street, Port Jeff. 
Fee: $10/ticket Check it out >

Harborfields Library
Offer several events every month that are for children of all abilities as well as sensory friendly movies.

Friars Golden Kids Carnival
Sunday April 30th, 1:00 - 4:00 PM
St. Anthony's High School
Must Register by 4/24!  
ParentLocal Parent Support

Webinar: Transitioning from High School in the Adult World after Graduation
Tuesday April 4th, 12:00 - 1:30 PM

Webinar: Preventing Parent Burnout for Parents of Children with Special Needs
Thursday, April 6th, 6:00 - 7:00 PM
Register >

Food for thought: Nourishing the body and brain for our children with special needs
April 10th, 6:30 - 8:00 PM
Panera (community room)
4959 Nesconset hwy, Port Jeff station,
Fee: $20/person
Please call or email to R.S.V.P
Email: omarlearningservices@gmail

Least Restrictive Environment and the Importance of Typical Peers -
Presented by LIPC, hosted by Commack SEPTA
North Ridge School, Commack's Online ADHD, ADD & Learning & Attention Issue Events
This organization offers SO many incredible events that enable you to listen to and interact with experts from home that my list was getting too long for this newsletter. 
April/May Online Events:
  • ADHD & Parenting
  • Motivating Struggling Learners
  • How to teach kids with dyslexia to read
  • ADHD and immaturity
  • Ask an Occupational Therapist
  • Considering Kindergarten for  Next Year
  • All About Evaluations
  • Managing Executive Functioning Issues at Home
  • Building Key Executive Functioning Issues
  • My Child Just Got an IEP. Now What?
  • Questions to Ask Your Doctor About ADHD Medication
  • Motivating Kids with Attention & Learning Issues
  • Behavior Issues at Home and in School ADHD Expert Webinars
This is another amazing resource that offers so many webinars for parents of children with ADHD. There are sure to be more added as we get closer to May.
Current April/May Webinars:
  • How Stimulant Medications May Improve Executive Functions
  • What Parents Should Know About Neurofeedback for ADHD 
For details about each webinar visit their webinar page >

"Autism Daddy" Things No One Ever Tells You After Your Kid is Diagnosed with Autism
Monday April 24th at 7:30 PM
Levittown Memorial Auditorium

April 24th & May 22nd, 8:15 - 9:15 PM
East Meadow Jewish Center, East Meadow

April 5th, 7:00 - 10:00 PM
May 10th, 7:00 - 10:00 PM
Topic TBD > 
Samoset Middle School,Lake Ronkonkoma 

Special Needs EXPO
Sunday, April 23rd, 11:00 - 4:00 PM
Long Island Hilton
(Fun for kids too!)

Learn Essential Study Skills to help Support your Child's Success in School - Dyslexia Assocation
April 20th, 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Half Hollow Hills Library Learn More>

Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Support Group
April 24, 2017 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
North Shore Youth Council, Rocky Point

The Crucial Role of Executive Skills in the Educational Process
Friday, May 5, 8:00 AM - 3:30 PM

A Roadmap to Success: How I Overcame ADHD and Found my True Potential - Presented by Commack SEPTA
May 9, 2017 at 7:00 PM 
Wood Park School, Commack
Scott Schacter, Mental Health Advocate of NAMI relates his experience.
This issue's "Shout Out" goes to: 
Jennifer Gutmann, Special Education Teacher at TJL 
who was nominated by Julie Sitter. 
"When we moved to the district at the beginning of third grade, the special education teachers at TJL immediately realized that my son's IEP at the time was not adequately addressing his special education needs.  My son was reading at a Pre-K level. From that point forward, he began receiving reading services 3 days a week from Ms. Gutmann (along with his many other services).  Thanks to his many teachers, and especially Ms. Gutmann's extraordinary teaching ability, skills and devotion, at the end of 5th grade, my son is now reading at the 50th percentile on GRADE LEVEL!!!!  We will forever be grateful and hold a special place in our hearts for Ms. Gutmann and the many other teachers who have helped Dean along the way. " - Julie 
To show our appreciation we will present Jennifer with 
a small gift card to Jonny D's!
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