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Below are descriptions of the Advocacy, Education and Social Policy grants that are currently active. To view a list of past grants in this area, please click on the link below.

Advocacy, Education and Social Policy - Past Grants

3LPlace Community, Somerville, MA

Principal Investigator: Deborah Flashen

The Development of an Art Program at 3LPlace Community

This grant to 3LPlace will be used towards the development of 3LPlace Community. The 3LPlace Community will provide supports for adults with autism, offering a source of meaningful social engagement, recreation, and lifelong learning. It will also help individuals maintain housing and access to medical care, as well as support them in their employment and education choices. Specifically, 3LPlace will use its 2016 grant from the NLMFF to support the development of the art program 3LPlace Community in Somerville. Art has been important to 3LPlace since its inception, and they are firm believers in the importance of fine arts in personal and career development, and to support therapeutic expression. 3LPlace has two expressive arts therapists on staff. One is a photographer and painter; the other is an illustrator.


Autism Consortium, Boston, MA

Autism Consortium Family and Clinician Support

As the Autism Consortium embarks on a Boston-wide research endeavor to develop a greater understanding of the etiology and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), this grant will enable the Consortium to provide care and support to the families and clinicians involved in their research. Through the Family Support component of this project, the Autism Consortium will provide several participating Boston-area institutions with Autism Family Resource Specialists who will provide support to families grappling with the diagnosis of autism. The Resource Specialists will be trained in how to support families dealing with the feelings that accompany a diagnosis of ASD, and how to educate others at their institutions. The Resource Specialists will provide educational materials to families including research program information. In addition, Resource Specialists will provide consultation/coaching, set up parent-to-parent support programs, and arrange topical seminars. The Resource Specialists will thus provide critical continuity with families from the time of diagnosis over the course of the research program. Through the Clinician Support component of this project, the Consortium will provide support for quarterly meetings of participating clinicians to share best practices, raise issues or concerns about the research program, learn about emerging research findings, and identify opportunities for research and improved care.

The Autism Consortium

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY

Support of Postgraduate Courses at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory related to Autism Spectrum Disorders as part of the CSHL Brain Health Initiative: Focus on Autism and Related Developmental Disorders

The NLM Family Foundation, in partnership with other autism-focused organizations, supports educational programs at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) related to autism spectrum disorders. As part of the Brain Health Initiative being developed at CSHL, CSHL is offering postgraduate courses designed to promote greater understanding of the neurobiological and genetic mechanisms affecting brain health. To enhance and extend research efforts on autism and related developmental disorders, the Initiative's Focus on Autism and Related Developmental Disorders has developed postgraduate lecture courses led by a distinguished faculty of top researchers from around the world. Some of these courses are briefly described below:

1) Biology of Social Cognition: This course addresses how cognitive processes involving social behavior are developed and how they are altered or dysregulated in autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disorders.

2) Autism Spectrum Disorders: This workshop takes an integrative approach to present the clinical, genetic, neurobiological and cognitive elements of autism spectrum disorders.

3) Genetics & Neurobiology of Language: This workshop seeks to integrate a broad spectrum of current research into the neurobiology of speech and speech perception. The goal of the workshop is to explore in depth the neurobiological basis of language and to define different neurodevelopmental disorders through specific cognitive/psychological deficits as well as to encourage research on the underlying genetics and neuropathology of relevant disorders such as language impairment disorders or autism.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

2014 Genetics & Neurobiology of Language

Combined Jewish Philanthropies / Hebrew College, Newton, MA
2003- End of fund

Support of the Jewish Special Education Program

This grant establishes a perpetually endowed fund for college scholarships and for increased inclusion of students with special needs into educational programs at Hebrew College.  It includes funding to develop new courses and faculty in the Jewish Special Education Program, to support student stipends, and to support a series of specialized seminars on the role of special education in the Jewish community.  It also provides outreach support to inform community families about educational opportunities for special needs students at the College. 

Hebrew College

Golf for All: Northeast Accessible Golf Association, Wellesley, MA

Joy of Golf: Free, accessible golf clinics for adults with autism

With support from the NLM Family Foundation, Golf for All will offer an eight-week, one-hour instructional golf clinic for adults with autism and adult golfers with other disabilities. The program, which will run Tuesdays at 11:00 am beginning August 23rd and ending October 11th, 2016 at the Leo J. Martin Golf Course in Weston, Massachusetts, will provide an inclusive social and recreational environment for adults (age 35+) with autism, building self-esteem and confidence and promoting independence.

The clinic will serve the full range of the autism spectrum including people with Asperger Syndrome, people who are non-verbal, and people with limited mobility who use wheelchairs or adaptive vehicles. Reflecting GFA’s commitment to inclusion, the program mixes golfers with autism along with golfers who have Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities.

Golf instruction is tailored to suit the specific needs of each participant and is taught by PGA professionals who have successfully completed a certification process for teaching golfers with adaptive needs. Putting exercises are set up for success through the use of special protocols.

Hebrew College, Newton Centre, MA
2017 – 2018

Principal Investigator: Rabbi Michael Shire, Ph.D.

New Course Development in the Masters of Jewish Education Program

Through this grant, Hebrew College will develop two graduate special education courses. The content of these courses will include how to work with neurodiverse learners in Jewish education and how to support aging adults with autism in Jewish contexts. To accomplish this, faculty will update a pre-existing course on “Encountering Neurodiversity within Jewish Education” and develop a new course on the “Lifecycle of Jewish Education”. The goal of the former is for students to learn to deepen their understanding of the field of Jewish special education through reflection, research, and the application of neurodiversity to the design of nurturing and inclusive environments. The goal of the latter is to look at the lifespan of special education programs through the lens of case studies of existing programs serving learners at each life stage. It will also link the coursework to Jewish ritual and practice. “Encountering Neurodiversity” will be updated in spring 2017 and offered in summer 2017. “Lifecycle of Jewish Special Education” will be developed in 2017-2018 and offered for the first time in summer 2018.

Finding Strengths in Classroom Neurodiversity (Hayidion, The Prizmah Journal)

Hebrew College

Institute on Communication and Inclusion, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
2013 – 2015

Principal Investigator: Christine Ashby, Ph.D.

Integration of iPads and Other AAC to Improve Communication for Individuals with Autism

Dr. Ashby’s research team aims to understand the potential of the iPad and other mobile technologies in supporting communication and inclusion of individuals with autism. What applications are most useful for individuals who do not speak or whose speech is highly limited? How can the iPad help individuals with autism develop greater independence, improve their motor planning, or develop verbal speech? Also, while the iPad has nearly unlimited potential, Dr. Ashby’s research team also wants to understand how it can be meaningfully integrated in school and community settings along with other communication strategies to increase meaningful access to academic, work, and social experiences. Technology alone is not sufficient; training and ongoing support is necessary to ensure that use of the technology enhances communicative interactions and educational access. Many schools and agencies are purchasing iPads with no plan for meaningful integration and no plan for how this new technology fits into a larger total communication approach.

The goal of this project is to enhance our understanding of the potential for iPads and other mobile AAC devices to support communication. Through this grant, Dr. Ashby’s research team will explore, evaluate, and organize applications that are most useful in helping non-speaking individuals with autism develop skills related to typed communication and achieving independent communication. The grant will also support the development of a pilot app, a multifaceted assessment tool that will aid in determining candidacy for facilitated communication training, current pointing skills and literacy levels. Finally, this project will focus specifically on the use of the iPad for helping individuals with autism develop greater physical independence when typing to communicate.

Institute on Communication and Inclusion

Massachusetts Advocates for Children, Boston, MA
2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

Establishment and Support of the Autism Special Education Legal Support Center

The goal of this project is to provide training, technical assistance, and advocacy services necessary to ensure that children with autism receive equal educational opportunities. Goals include: Providing parents with information about state-of-the-art services and programs available to meet individual needs of students with disabilities; Insuring that children with autism receive special education services necessary to reach their potential in areas impacted by their disability; Increasing public awareness and understanding of the potential and competency of individuals with autism, targeting policy makers, media, educators, service providers, as well as the general public. The Autism Special Education Legal Support Center will accomplish these goals by: providing community-based workshops for parents, educators, and medical professionals regarding legal rights and range of service options available for children with autism; providing a hotline to give legal and technical assistance to families of children with autism; training attorneys to increase representation of low-income students with autism to ensure that children receive legally mandated special education services; and providing information to the media, the legislature, and other policy makers regarding changes necessary to ensure children with autism receive services that reflect their potential.

Click here to read the NLMFF Interview with Massachusetts Advocates for Children

Massachusetts Advocates for Children

New England Yachad, Brookline, MA

New England Yachad Inclusive Bowling Program

Liz Offen

Through this grant, New England Yachad will create and manage a 12-week candlepin bowling program in Massachusetts for adults ages 35+ with Autism or on the Autism Spectrum, including individuals with developmental disabilities who may lack a specific Autism or Autism Spectrum diagnosis. Given that many adults may not have received a proper diagnosis earlier in life, the program makes a point not to exclude participants due to a lack of diagnosis. New England Yachad will recruit 15 adults with disabilities and 10 adult volunteers/peers who will participate equally in the program, totaling 25 bowlers. The program will provide a bowling pro to offer skills and tips to individuals to enhance their experience.

New England Yachad

Project Stretch, Natick, MA

Updating the “D-Termined Program of Repetitive Tasking and Familiarization in Dentistry”
Training Video

Principal Investigators: David Tesini, DMD and Carolyn Fetter, Specialized Care Co.

The D-Termined Program of Repetitive Tasking and Familiarization in Dentistry (DTP) is a training program for dentists, first published in 2004 with grant funding from the NLM Family Foundation. This grant is aimed at bringing this 8-year old training video and program material up to date. This unique program provides dental professionals with a dedicated approach to helping patients with autism to go beyond the strange noises, lights and odors of a dental office, to arrive at a point of accepting dental services with no special supports. This program is based on the philosophies and experiences of Dr. David Tesini in his private dental practice. Over a period of years, Dr. Tesini had worked with children with autism who exhibited unsafe behavior when a dental appointment was attempted. Dr. Tesini developed a system for gradually introducing these children to the expectations of a dental visit, such that after a period of time, a good percentage of the children were successfully treated in the normal dental office. These success stories were documented on video and became the basis for teaching others the techniques that he developed. Dr. Tesini’s approach was made into a DVD program for other dental professionals, and was also published on YouTube, with almost 71,000 hits. Based on the testimonials of academics and private practitioners, DTP has been successful in encouraging other dental professionals to open their practices to children with ASD.

David Tesini, DMD

UMASS Medical School Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center

Principal Investigator: Amy Weinstock

Support for Core Operations of the Autism Insurance Resource Center

Located at the UMass Medical School Shriver Center, the Autism Insurance Resource Center provides information to the public about insurance coverage under a law, An Act Relative to Insurance Coverage for Autism (ARICA), which took effect in Massachusetts on January 1, 2011. There are many questions related to the implementation of the law (e.g., to whom ARICA applies, what treatments are covered, how to access coverage, etc.). The Center, a program of New England INDEX, a long-standing information resource for people with disabilities, is designed to provide information and support for self-advocates, family members, providers, employers, and educators on issues related to medical insurance for autism treatment. This grant provides support for core operations of the Center, allowing it to provide support to the autism community to access insurance coverage and maximize the impact of ARICA legislation. There is expected to be significant growth and increased reliance on the Center due to the enactment of the Autism Omnibus Bill.

The Autism Insurance Resource Center

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