About the NYU ASD Nest Support Project

The 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. The goal of the ASD Nest Support Project is to advance the development and implementation of educational solutions for children living with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The ASD Nest Support Project provides training, professional development, and on-site consultation for teachers, therapists, and administrators, and workshops and a newsletter for ASD Nest parents. Other activities include research, presentations at national professional organizations, and articles and other publications on relevant topics.

NYU's partnership with New York City’s Department of Education (DoE) and Hunter College’s School of Education began in 2001 to fill a gap in the programs the DoE offered for higher functioning children on the autism spectrum. The fruit of that collaboration was the new ASD Nest program, piloted at PS 32 in Brooklyn in September 2003. Its goal was and is to help these children learn how to function well academically, behaviorally and socially in school and in their community.

Now, in the 2016-17 school year, the New York City school system serves over 1,100 children with ASD in over 260 fully inclusive Nest classrooms in 21 elementary schools, ten middle schools and eight high schools. The DoE and individual Nest schools provide contracts to support and facilitate the development and expansion of the ASD Nest program, as well as to provide professional development for staff members of ASD Nest schools.

We acknowledge with gratitude the early support of the FAR Fund, Independence Community Foundation (now Brooklyn Community Foundation), Overbrook Foundation and Tides Foundation, and the ongoing support of the FAR Fund for parent support activities.

The collaborative team of DoE educators who initially developed and nurtured the ASD Nest Program with the guidance of Prof. Shirley Cohen of Hunter College and Dorothy Siegel of NYU were: Ruth Blankiet, David Cohen, Carmen Farina, Sherry Koslov, Ann Marie Lettieri-Baker and Steve Rosen. Terry Feuer and Linda Wernikoff provided invaluable support as the program got off the ground.

The ASD Nest Model Mission

The ASD Nest Model is designed for students with ASD who are able to do grade-level academic work, the ASD Nest classroom, while utilizing the standard NYC curriculum, creates a fully inclusive therapeutic environment that uses positive behavior support, targeted instructional strategies and specialized social interventions to make inclusion work. The ASD Nest school and district provide the necessary structures and supports; these include smaller class size, co-taught classes, pre-service training and on-site support on Nest practices, regular interdisciplinary team meetings to promote consistency across all settings, and a strong home-school collaboration.

The ASD Nest Program elementary school model supports school-age students with ASD in both developing academic skills and building their social competencies. The Nest program provides a safe, inclusive environment where students are valued as individuals and learn alongside their general education peers while developing foundational skills for continued success in school.

The ASD Nest Program middle school model supports young adolescent students with ASD in their development of academic skills and social competencies. The Nest program helps these young people strengthen self-advocacy skills to lay the groundwork for independent functioning in their educational careers.

The ASD Nest Program high school model specifically helps adolescents and emerging adults with ASD learn how to function well academically, behaviorally and socially, and become ready to attain their full, unique potential as competent, independent and happy adults. 

The ASD Nest Model Overview