NYC Department of Education (NYCDOE) has pledged to make a $200 million investment to expand key special education programs with the goal of reimagining the educational experience and prioritizing wellness for students with disabilities. DOE School’s Chancellor David Banks’ “Path Forward” plan includes sustaining and scaling innovative programs that have proven successful at serving students with disabilities as well as creating an advisory counsel to determine further recommendations for special education in the NYCDOE. One of the programs included in this plan is the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Nest Program and one member of the special advisory council is Dr. Kristie Patten who is the principal investigator for the ASD Nest Support Project and Vice Dean of Academic Affairs for Steinhardt School in New York University.
In 2001, New York University began partnering with the NYCDOE with the goal of supporting Autistic learners in an inclusive setting in NYC public schools in their community. Through this partnership the ASD Nest program was developed and was piloted in September 2003 at PS 32 in Brooklyn. Over the past two decades, the NYCDOE and NYU ASD Nest Support Project continued to collaborate and expand the program, which now serves students from K-12 in 69 NYC public schools across all five boroughs. At its core, the ASD Nest Program is about true inclusion–creating a classroom in which everyone belongs. The program thoughtfully considers the classroom environment as well as instruction to support all learners, celebrates all abilities, and builds a sense of community by helping kids stay in their neighborhood schools. The ASD Nest Program has already shown significant success with 95% of participants ultimately graduating from high school.
The ASD Nest Support Project at NYU Metro Center collaborates with Autistic advocates to learn from the true experts, as we continue to hone the ASD Nest model. The ASD Nest Support Project provides pre-service training, ongoing professional development, and on-site consultations for teachers, therapists, and administrators in the ASD Nest program, as well as workshops to non-program schools to advance educational practices for Autistic learners and enhance inclusion models. The ASD Nest Support Project at NYU Metro Center embraces the DOE’s expressed commitment to the ASD Program and recognizes it as a “testament to the legacy of Nest … the incredible foundation that was built over the years by so many, especially Dr. Shirley Cohen, Dr. Kristie Patten, and Dorothy Siegel. The ASD Nest Support Project would also like to take this opportunity to express their deep gratitude for their ongoing partnership with the NYC DOE, specifically the Office of Specialized Programs, and to applaud the work and dedication of all the Nest staff in the DOE Program schools! The ASD Nest Support Project is excited to continue to innovate and develop the model through this meaningful and sustaining collaboration.