Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Free Informational Autism Workshops for Parents

We are happy to announce that as part of the City Council Autism Initiative, Sinergia’s Autism Project has been refunded. This program directs outreach and programming to parents of children with autism, in particular to Latino parents who are not yet able to communicate in English. It also addresses families living in poverty and those who may have limited access to information and services and lack knowledge of the service systems, and/or have limited or no knowledge of their children's educational rights or how to navigate the special education system.

The project provides simultaneous translation services at workshops for non-English speaking parents. Some workshops are now provided directly in Spanish to facilitate the learning and greater participation of Latino parents.

In order to increase outreach, and to meet the language and cultural needs of Latino parents as well as to offer a parent support group, the project has incorporated a series of Desayunos/Encuentros. This format provides parents a way to come together, learn, and share experiences and ideas in a more intimate and informal setting. The Encuentros offer parents the opportunity for clarification and reflection on information derived from previous workshops, and facilitates a dialogue with their peers.

Sinergia’s Autism Project will continue to bring parents together and help to create a network of support, which incorporates educational, scientific, art and service organizations. Collaboration with these entities will help parents to learn about services and resources and foster a greater understanding of how systems work and how parents can utilize services to benefit children and sustain their families.

Our project provides information and support for families of children with autism. Hopefully the entire network of the Autism Initiative will create greater awareness of autism and increase community understanding of the complexities and needs of children with autism and the challenges faced by their families.

The “Desayunos/Encuentros for Latinos” at the moment are scheduled at the end of every quarter. After the last one held on October 2nd, it has become clear that our families need them with more frequency, at least once per month. We will be looking for funding to increase the number of Breakfasts/Dialogues, so important for parents of children with autism in our community. Ideas and/or suggestions for funding this program are welcome.

Please call our coordinator Gina Pena at 212-643-2840 for upcoming training sessions or for any further information about the Autism Initiative.

Upcoming events:

September 24, 10am to 12:30pm
“Accessing Services and Programs for Children with Autism” (simultaneous translation to Spanish provided).

October 2, 10am to 1pm
“Desayuno/Encuentro with Spanish-speaking parents.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Help For Parents of Children Entering Preschool

Education Advocacy for Parents of Children with Disabilities - From Birth to Age Three
The Metropolitan Parent Center (MPC) is launching the Early Childhood Program designed to address matters of interest and concern to parents of young children from birth to age three. As a parent you may feel some anxiety if your baby, toddler or preschooler is experiencing developmental or other delays, and may need information and support. The MPC Early Childhood program is designed to help make sense of these concerns, and support parents in making appropriate decisions about their child’s development and learning.

On October 15, 2009, the MPC will offer a special presentation during the fourth session of our “Education Advocacy Workshop Series” focused around young children that will be entering preschool, a crucial time for decision making about children's services. This session will address what parents need to know and do in order for their child to experience a seamless transition. The workshop is called:

“Transitioning From Early Intervention Services to Preschool”

Please call Godfrey Rivera, Co-director of the Metropolitan Parent Center at (212) 643-2840, ext. 307 or e-mail at grivera at for further information or to register for the presentation.

Simultaneous interpretation (Spanish-English) is available upon request.

Date: October 15, 2009
Time: 10:00am to 1:00pm
Location: 134 West 29th Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10001

Sinergia e-mail: information at Website:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Children with disabilities at higher risk for swine flu

As a follow up to our last post, there's a new report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) which found that children with disabilities are at higher risk of contacting the H1D1, or swine flu. According to this article from Disability Scoop, "of the 36 children who died from swine flu by early August, two-thirds had a chronic illness or developmental disability such as cerebral palsy, developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, respiratory troubles or cardiac problems."

And from "Swine flu risk higher for children with disabilities, CDC reports", here are some warning signs to look for:

-Fast breathing or trouble breathing

-Bluish or gray skin color

-Not drinking enough fluids

-Severe or persistent vomiting

-Not waking up or not interacting

-Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held

-Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

But the good news is that only one shot shot is needed, which effectively doubles the supply of shots available, as reported in this video clip from Bloomberg:

So make sure you get all your family vaccinated this season!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tips For Staying Safe During Flu Season

Flu season will soon be upon us and we will need to be particularly careful due to the presence of the Swine Flu or H1N1 virus. The Swine Flu is now being called Novel H1N1 because it is a new flu virus that is causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. This virus is unique in that it is a combination of flu virus strains that have been observed in pigs, birds and humans. This virus is spreading from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. The World Health Organization is classifying the novel H1N1 flu as a “pandemic” because it is a new virus strain that has never infected people before and also is affecting people on a global scale, spreading from one continent to another.

The symptoms of novel H1N1 flu virus in people include fever (over 100 degrees), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Severe illnesses and death has occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus. The effects of novel H1N1 virus has ranged from mild to severe and most people who have become ill with this new virus have recovered without requiring medical treatment About 70 percent of people who have been hospitalized with novel H1N1 virus have had one or more medical conditions previously recognized as placing them at “high risk” of serious seasonal flu-related complications. This includes pregnancy, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and kidney disease. Interestingly, the information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that novel H1N1 flu has caused greater complications in people younger than 25 years of age than older people. At this time, there are few cases and few deaths reported in people older than 64 years old, which is unusual when compared with regulas seasonal flu. So far, novel H1N1 appears to have the affects of seasonal influenza and the feared deadly impact has not been apparent.

What To Do
People infected with seasonal and novel H1N1 are contagious, and may be able to infect others from 1 day before getting sick 5 to 7 days after. This can be longer in some people, especially children and people with weakened immune systems and people infected with the new H1N1 virus. A person with novel H1N1 illness should be excluded from school, work, and related activities and should not go into the community, except to seek medical care, until they are symptom-free (no fever without fever control medications and feels well) for at least 24 hours. In order to protect yourself and to stay healthy, you should do the following:

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners or hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol are also effective. Wash with soap and water with soap and warm water for 15 to 20 seconds (sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice).

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.

• Stay home if you get sick and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

By Godfrey Rivera

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sinergia is moving!

Sinergia is thrilled to announce that we will be moving to a new location in December 2009. Our new offices will be taking up two floors of a building being constructed at 2082 Lexington Ave., on the corner of 126th Street. This signifies the return of our agency to upper Manhattan, close to the people which Sinergia has historically served throughout the past three decades.

We now have the opportunity to consolidate our 902 Amsterdam Avenue office, which housed the residential and housing assistance programs, with our main office on 29th Street, where our administrative, fiscal, programmatic and day habilitation programs are found.

Our new location is easily accessible by Mass transit and is at the crossroads of East Harlem, the cradle of the Puerto Rican migration, and Central Harlem, which has played a historic role in the Black experience.

The space will include a state-of-the-art parent training and education center and will be an accommodating and welcoming place for visitors and workshop participants. If you would like to contribute to our capital campaign to help facilitate our relocation, please call us at 212-643-2840.

Education Advocacy for Parents Workshop Series

Sinergia is offering a comprehensive three-week workshop series to help parents understand their rights, learn about special education issues and learn how to navigate the special education system in New York City in order to be effective advocates for their children. Parents will be provided with information on a variety of issues relating to special education.

All workshops are offered twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 AM- 1 PM and are free of charge to parents of children with disabilities.

The following is a breakdown of the topics that are discussed:

I. Workshop One
A. Introduction and Overview of Series
B. What is an advocate: Role, Responsibilities and Ethics
C. IDEA and the Rights of Parents of Children with Disabilities: The Six Principles of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act
D. The New York City Special Education Structure: Offices and Personnel You Should Know

II. Workshop Two
A. The Continuum of Special Education Services
B. Special Education Services in New York City
C. The Special Education Process
1. Early Intervening Services, Response to Intervention and Prereferral Strategies
2. Child Find and Referral for Special Education services
3. Evaluation/Classification
-Purpose, Personnel, Roles and Responsibilities
-Understanding the Evaluation and Classification Process
-Disability Categories
4. Placement Issues

III. Workshop Three
A. The IEP Process
1. Components of the IEP
2. How to design a quality IEP: The parent as a member of the IEP team
3. How to prepare for an IEP meeting

IV. Workshop Four
A. Early Childhood: Birth to Three
1. Early Intervention and the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)
2. Transition to Preschool and transition to kindergarten
3. Transition to Adulthood: Procedures and Services
B. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Law and Special Education

V. Workshop Five
A. NYCDOE Discipline Policies and Children in Special Education
B. Sec 504 Remedies
C. The Dispute Resolution Process- Part One: Filing a Complaint

VI. Workshop Six
A. The Dispute Resolution Process- Part Two
1. Mediation presentation by Michelle Kirschbaum from Safe Horizon
2. The Impartial Hearing and the Resolution Session
B. End of Series Celebration

Registration for this FREE workshop series is limited! Please call Godfrey Rivera at 212 643-2840, ext. 307 or e-mail at

To see the full calendar click here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

MPC Launches “Raising Our Children” Program

The Metropolitan Parent Center announces its new program, Raising Our Children. The goal of the program is to assist parents of children with disabilities whose children are experiencing behavioral difficulties at school. Advocates at Sinergia state this is an issue that is fast growing and is not being adequately addressed at many schools. In some cases, Schools are pushing students out of their schools for behavioral reasons without having conducted a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP), a process that should take place before a student is considered for a more restrictive placement. Failure of schools to properly conduct a BIP stems in part from the lack of professional training in this area and their disconnection with community resources.

Under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students whose behavior impedes their or their classmate’s learning are eligible for support and services that will allow a student to benefit from instruction. Some inappropriate behaviors may include impulsivity, disruptiveness, anxiousness, or inattentiveness.

The Raising Our Children Program will assist parents by offering:

• Workshops on the causes of innapropriate understanding behavior, behavior management strategies, effective behavior interventions plans, and student’s special education rights
• Special education advocacy
• The shared experiences of other parents
• Connections to community resources
• Relationship-building between community resources, parents and their child’s school

If you have an experience in this area you would like to share, we would like to hear about it. For more information about Raising Our Children, please call (212)643-2840 ext 330.