Young Autism Program Charitable Foundation

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Over thirty years ago, a small group of parents of children with autism established a school that would address their children’s special needs.  The Developmental Disabilities Institute stands today as a testament of their undying efforts.


DDI is a regional center of excellence in the treatment of autism and related disorders. With campuses located throughout Long Island the Institute provides educational, clinical, vocational, residential and medical services to over 1500 children, adults and their families. In addition, DDI has been recognized for its contributions to the autism research community.  Each division and program at the Institute adheres strictly to the mission of providing the help for our students and adults that leads them to productive lives in society.


In 1995, the Young Autism Program (YAP) was established as an experimental program, utilizing the principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis to treat children diagnosed as having Autism.  It is a comprehensive effort that has the goal of returning autistic children to regular kindergarten by age 6.  It is among the most intensive programs of its kind in the United States. The outcomes thus far have produced results far exceeding what is typically found in the field of Autism.


Autistic children are accepted into YAP prior to 48 months of age provided their school districts approve.  Additionally, each child’s parents must agree to receive training in order to continue their child’s treatment at home.  Once admitted, children receive six hours a day of 1:1 therapy in school and another two hours daily at home.


Since autism affects a child’s ability to communicate and socialize with others, the initial focus of our intervention is to treat each child’s difficulties in these two areas.  Children receive continuous instruction in order to initially make beginning sounds, then words and phrases and ultimately reciprocal conversation.  Though children initially spend their entire instructional day at YAP in Medford, as they progress, we enroll them in nursery schools with typically developing children.  During this time, our students are taught to model the language and social behaviors of their peers.  This unique balance of 1:1 instruction and group practice continues until staff, parents and the school district agree the child is ready to enroll in kindergarten.


It is well documented in the literature that at least 50% of the autistic population remain functionally mute throughout their lives.  Also, as many as 80% function as mentally retarded.  Previously these were thought to be characteristics of autism.  However, we are finding that, with very intensive instruction initiated at a young age, these outcomes are not forgone conclusions. In fact, over 90% of the students enrolled in the Young Autism Program for one year have learned to speak and will use speech as their primary form of communication.  Additionally, by age 6, over 75% of our students move from IQ scores in the mentally retarded to scores in the normal range of cognitive functioning. 



Executive Committee

Maria Barouch - President
Laurie Rogers - Vice President
Annette Lagan - Treasurer
Pamela Frank - Secretary
Jeff McCauley - Fundraising Chair
Janine Louie - YAP Alumni Chair

2005 Dinner Dance Committee

Veronica Rich - Co-Chair
Diane Schuster - Co-Chair