NYU ASD Nest Support Project Kickoff 2016

4th Annual Kickoff!

Last week a group of 350 educators, professionals, and advocates gathered to kick off the school year for the NYU ASD Nest Support Project and the NYC DOE’s ASD Nest Program at the United Federation of Teachers Headquarters in downtown Manhattan. This year’s theme is Together in Difference: Embracing Neurodiversity. Neurodiversity, the concept that neurological differences are as common as any other human variation and that these differences enrich society, is guiding the way Nest teachers and therapists approach the school year.

The DOE’s ASD Nest Program is New York City’s school inclusion program for higher-functioning students with ASD. ”Nested” within supportive neighborhood schools, the ASD Nest program helps children learn how to function well academically, behaviorally, and socially, providing a therapeutic environment within a grade-appropriate academic environment.

The NYU ASD Nest Support Project is one of several community-focused programs serving special populations hosted by NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development’s MetroCenter. Occupational Therapy’s own chair and associate professor Kristie Koenig serves as a Principal Investigator for the project, and conducts professional development for ASD Nest OT’s and PT’s. The project provides training, professional development, and on-site consultation for teachers, therapists, and administrators, as well as workshops and a newsletter for ASD Nest parents.

The kickoff provided educators with tools, training, and inspiration from speakers and breakout sessions throughout the day. Everyone left energized and ready to tackle the new school year with love, understanding, and guidance in the classroom; and the notion that children are more alike than they are different.


This year’s presenters included:

David E. Kirkland, Executive Director of NYU MetroCenter

Dorothy Siegel, Project Director, NYU ASD Nest Support Project

Aaron Lanou, Co-Project Director, NYU ASD Nest Support Project

David Finch, Presenter/Author of The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband


The day also featured the below breakout sessions:

A.C.T. Like an Adult: Successful Transition for Square Pegs
David Finch, Kickoff 2016 Keynote speaker and author

How Could Someone Not Love a Bearded Dragon?
Lauren Hough, Director of Coaching Program, ASD Nest Support Project

There’s Always a Pattern
Brandy Stanfill, Senior Training Specialist, ASD Nest Support Project

Destination: The Middleground
Susan Brennan, SDI Lead Developer, ASD Nest Support Project

Stuff You Can Do for Kids with Free Money
ASD Nest Staff Grant Awardees

Creating Comic Strip Conversations
Allison Brown, Director of Professional Development, ASD Nest Support Project

DynamICONs: Visual Supports for Concrete Communication
Aaron Lanou, Co-Project Director, ASD Nest Support Project



And a self-advocate panel featuring:


Roman Haberli

Paul Kotler

Rachel Pineda


Moderated by Allison Brown


Project co-director Aaron Lanou

Attendees getting settled before the presentations










Keynote speaker David Finch addresses the crowd

NYU Steinhardt represents at the check-in table