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Atlas Foundation For Autism

Atlas Staff


Atlas Administration


Amanda

Amanda Friedman
Amanda Friedman, MSEd, SBL
Executive Director


Featured Articles By or About Amanda


Amanda is the founder and Executive Director of the Atlas Foundation for Autism and a special education teacher with over 18 years experience within the educational field. She is a SUNY New Paltz alumni and has completed the Administrative Certification Program from the College of Saint Rose/CITE. Amanda has worked with students ranging in age from 3 – 25 years old with an array of differences including Autism, Cognitive Delays, Emotional Disturbances (PTSD, Schizophrenia, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, etc.) and other learning and developmental challenges. Prior to Atlas, Amanda had co-founded and run the Emerge & See Education Center polishing the framework for the integrative model that now is the baseline for the Atlas' program philosophy. Amanda has been through certified trainings in ABA, TEACCH, BART, and multiple trainings in DIR/Floortime. She is proud to act as a liaison within the NY ASD and special ed community sharing resources, support, and heart with our incredible students, families, and other community leaders.


Robert

Robert Taylor
Robert Taylor
Staff and Student Program Supervisor


Robert Taylor has over 15 years working with children, young adults, and seniors with diverse developmental differences. He has had multiple trainings in BART, safety measures, behavioral supports etc. Albeit, Robert's greatest knowledge comes from respecting students and learning their ways of navigating the world and communication. He believes that in order to truly help a child one must be consistent, mentally present, and observing all of the time. Communication comes in many forms and sometimes simplicity and trust are the greatest foundations.


Jen

Jennifer Fiorentino
Jennifer Fiorentino,
Assistant Director


My position at Atlas includes school admissions, human resources, interfacing with families and lawyers, billing, board development, strategic planning, budgeting, etc. I have an MBA in Finance and 25 years experience in the non-profit sector. I love working with Atlas because it provides an invaluable educational setting for its students where they are respected and valued and each child is supported to grow to his/her greatest potential.


Alex

Alex Rivera
Alex Rivera,
Program Supervisor & Educational Instructor


Alex has been working with children & young adults with diverse developmental differences for over 3 years now.He is a certified CPI (Crisis Prevention Intervention)instructor. Alex truly respects the neurodiversity of the individuals he works with and hopes to be a driving force in bringing about more acceptance and positive change to our community.


Faith

Faith Thayer
Faith Thayer, PhD, LPC, LCAT, ATR-BC
Director of Student Programing


Dr. Thayer is an ICDL Expert Training Leader & DIR Floortime® Provider; Registered, Board Certified Art Therapist; Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC); and Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT). She is an assistant professor in the Graduate Program of Special Education at Daemen College TTI. She is the former Director of Mental Health and DIR Floortime® at the Imagine Academy for Autism in Brooklyn and the former Director of the Creative Arts Therapy Center and Overnight Camps for the Connecticut Institute for the Blind/Oak Hill. She received her Doctor of Philosophy degree from Lesley University, which culminated in her dissertation entitled Evaluation of a Developmental Individualized Relationship (DIR®) and Creative Arts Therapies Program for Children with Autism.


Carol

Matthew Cohen
Carol Solomon
Office Manager


Carol is excited to rejoin the Atlas community as office manager having previously supervised the Saturday Open Play program. Carol has had a strong affiliation with the autism community for over 15 years as a film and video producer. She is excited to assist collaborate and work together with the Atlas staff and the parents of our students and community!


Matthew

Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen, MA, EDTC
Administrative Assistant


Matthew is a native New Yorker and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Theatre in Colleges and Communities from NYU Steinhardt. Matthew has worked in various offices in an administrative capacity for over a decade. The combination of his office experience and his background in education makes Atlas an ideal setting! While not at Atlas, Matthew can be seen on stage as a professional actor and singer.


Related Services:


Kristin

Kristein Lenzo
Kristin Lenzo, M.S., OTR/L
Occupational Therapist


Kristin is a licensed and registered occupational therapist who earned her Master’s of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Seton Hall University. Prior to earning her master’s degree, she studied at The College of Staten Island and received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology. Throughout the past eight years she has gained experience with children of all ages that have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) while working at The GRACE foundation, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing support, education, and direct services to individuals and their families that are impacted by ASD. Kristin is a motivated team player and believes that with support, each child has the potential to meet their individual goals, improving their quality of life.


Erica

Erica Rahavy
Erica Rahavy, MS
School Psychologist


Erica has been the Atlas School Psychologist for since 2015. Erica received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Boston University, and her Masters in School Psychology from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has worked with children with special needs in a variety of settings, including inpatient psychiatric, BOCES, and non-public schools. In addition to her certification as a School Psychologist, Erica became a certified RDI Consultant in 2009, and has also received certification in Strategies for Crisis Intervention and Prevention, Cornell University's Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, and clinical training in administration of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale (ADOS). Erica has presented at the Annual Relationship Development Intervention Conference, for the New York Association for Applied Behavior Analysis, and the Keyspan Lecture Series. One of Erica's most humbling positions is as the mother of two young boys.


Justine

Justine Parrinello
Justine Parrinello, M.S., CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist


Justine Parrinello received her bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders at Queens College. She received her master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology from Long Island University Brooklyn Campus. She is a New York State licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from ASHA as well as a professional certificate as a Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities (TSSLD).

Over the past 7 years, Justine has had the opportunity to professionally work with children 0-21 with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Developmental Delays, Feeding/Oral Motor Disorders, Apraxia, Hearing Impairments, Fluency Disorders, Medically Fragile Children, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Cognitive Delays, Receptive & Expressive Language Impairments, Pragmatic Language Deficits, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. and Articulation/Phonological Disorders.

Justine is passionate and excited about working with all her students to reach their highest potential and communicate in the most functional and effective manner possible!


Jennifer

Jennifer Caron
Jennifer Caron,
Speech Language Pathologist


Jennifer received her bachelor’s degree in Speech/Language Pathology from Loyola University Maryland and her master’s degree in Speech/Language Pathology from Northeastern University. She is a New York State licensed speech-language pathologist and holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from ASHA. Jennifer has experience working in early intervention, private practice, and private school settings with children aged 0-21 with Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental delays, expressive and receptive language disorders, pragmatic language disorders, feeding disorders, articulation disorders, cognitive delays, and genetic disorders. She is passionate about working with children to improve their communication skills and ability to functionally interact with others in their homes and communities.


Donna

Donna Kim
Donna Kim,
Occupational Therapist


Donna received her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Columbia University and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and French from Amherst College. Prior to graduate school, she pursued work experience and learning opportunities in relevant pediatric settings including specialized summer camps, school-based practice, and outpatient sensory integration clinics. As part of the Atlas team, Donna is dedicated to collaborating with children and adolescents with ASD and their families to maximize participation in their valued occupations and to succeed in their pursuits!


Education:


Rey

Atlas Staff
Rey Rivera,
Art & Music Educator

Rey Rivera has 10 years’ experience working with special needs children and adults ages 5- 20. He has worked in multiple capacities in serving our young people. His experience includes designing music and art activities and providing teacher assistance, and behavioral support. His main focus is the music and art program. He comes with 20 years of experience of music production in Hip Hop, R&B, dance, and electronic music. He is also a very talented artist whose style is very diverse allowing each student to express themselves freely because he firmly believes that art and music should flow naturally and organically. He says “You cannot force open the petals of a flower. When the flower is ready it will open itself up to you.”


Michael

Michael Marsalis
Michael D. Marsalis
Teacher


Michael D. Marsalis holds both a BA in Philosophy and a MSEd in Early Childhood Special Education from Hofstra University. Mr. Marsalis has a combined total of more than 20 years of professional experience in teaching/social services. He also is a co -author of research that was published in the book entitled, Person- Centered Planning Research Practice and Future Directions, by Steve Holburn and Peter M.Vietze. Mr. Marsalis is new Teacher at Atlas and looks forward to working in the school.


Marcellus

Marcellus Fairley
Marcellus Fairley
Teacher



Swara

swarali karulkar
Marcellus Fairley
Dance Educator


Swarali is a choreographer, dance educator, and a dance/movement therapist. Originally from Mumbai, Swarali grew up utilizing dance as a tool to connect with children & adults with mental and/or physical disability. Her passion drove her to New York to obtain her masters in Dance/Movement Therapy from Pratt University in 2016. Since then Swarali has dedicated her time devising a program that combines her knowledge as a movement therapist, choreographer and former yogi to enhance & meet the physical, emotional and social needs of children on the spectrum.

Swarali has over 13 years of experience in the Bollywood Industry working and was a finalist on Asia's biggest dance reality show - Dance India Dance 4. Swara continued her commercial dance journey through multiple dance reality shows, Off-Broadway & Broadway musicals, IIFA awards, The Stephen Colbert Show, Mystic India - The World Tour and international music videos.

She is the founder of BollyHeels - a one of a kind dance workshop series that combines commercial dancing with dance/movement therapy. Since its conception in 2017, Swara has successfully taught over 100s of workshops across the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, U.K., and India!

She believes strongly in the power of movement and utilizes it to connect, to educate and to explore different layers of human behaviour & performance.


Shan

Shan Hill
Shan Hill
Educational Instructor



Taylor

Taylor Nelson
Taylor Nelson
Educational Instructor


Taylor is a college graduate from University at Buffalo with a bachelors degree in Education. She has worked with children of all ages and volunteered at many different organizations since the beginning of her high school career. She loves working with children and hopes to pursue a masters degree in special education. She is very excited about working at Atlas and hopes to gain more experience as the years go by.


Lamont

Lamont Thomas
Lamont Thomas
Educational Instructor


Lamont Thomas is a native New Yorker who has always enjoyed working with kids. He has worked with kids since he was a teenager concentrating on both work and leisure skills . Lamont has experience with teaching life skills and in the last couple of years has worked within BOE D75 school setting - His personal passion for art, music, travel, and technology along with his artistic ability keeps him open minded and able to accept people fully for who they are and what different backgrounds they come from. Lamont's style is calm and undemanding creating a sense of freedom for students to work at their own pace . Lamont says Atlas is unique because of its small and intimate size. The school is powerful and has impact because students get the attention and exposure to a wide array of personalities and experiences that they wouldn't in a larger setting.


Sydney

Sydney Landsman
Sydney Landsman
Educational Instructor


Sydney is a college graduate with a bachelors degree in psychology. She is currently getting her masters degree in Occupational Therapy at New York Institute of Technology. Sydney has been working with special needs children since her undergraduate career. She has experience in the Applied Behavior Analysis model. Sydney has a passion working with special needs children and helping them learn, grow, and succeed in all aspects of life. She is looking forward to a great school year at Atlas!



Chereese

Chereese Dickens
Chereese Dickens
Educational Instructor


I am a Queens’s native with 9+ years of experience working in special education. From ABA therapy, crisis prevention intervention, as well as therapeutic crisis intervention; I have the ability to approach a variety of situations from different angles. I believe every student as the capability and capacity to be great, we as educators have to understand every child’s unique way of communication. Armed with that knowledge, every child can achieve their personal best.


Loredana

Loredana Tapia
Loredana Tapia
Educational Instructor


Hello, my name is Loredana Tapia and I am an Educational Instructor at Atlas. I was born and raised in a small town in the Dominican Republic in a rather large family. After graduating High school I moved to New York to pursue a career in taking care of life’s important gift “children”.

I started from a very young age working with kids and I grew to love their different behaviors. I enjoy every aspect of teaching and have realized in my years they can teach us as much as we teach them.

I had five-year experience in the Applied Behavioral Analysis Model also, certified in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention. I am dedicated to the social and emotional development of each child and made it my goal to make sure each child receives the best care and love they all deserve. I am humbled and honored to be working at atlas. I am always open to meet and engage with parents and community members to support the school.


Daniel

Loredana Tapia
Daniel Pierre-Pierre
Educational Instructor


I have worked with children of different backgrounds for several years and it has been an ever-rewarding and ever-challenging experience. Between a bachelors in speech language pathology, a masters in psychology my education and my own life experience, I have seen the need to being a pillar of strength and advocacy for children, especially in this community. I believe that with the support and guidance of others, anyone is capable of achieving success. I have a love for working with children and I look forward to bringing my experience to Atlas and to continue being an individual who supports others to be their best.

Daniel

Rodney Edwards
Rodney Edwards
Educational Instructor


Rodney Edwards has a BFA in Media Arts and Art Education from the School of Visual Arts. He is a Brooklyn NYC native. Rodney has been working with children and young adults with special needs, for 15+ years. His background consists of a Juvenile Counselor, Special Education Substitute Teacher, Psychosocial Assistant, and Crisis/ Behavior Specialist. He is well versed in Conflict Mediation, Classroom Management , and Crisis Prevention Management. Rodney is a self-taught visual artist, who has had several Art Exhibitions in the NYC area. He continues to welcome all opportunities and to learn new strategies, in promoting a positive and cohesive learning environment.

Stephanie

Stephanie Edmonson
Stephanie Edmonson
Educational Instructor



Krystle

Krystle Smith
Krystle Smith
Educational Instructor



Ariel

Ariel Solano
Ariel Solano
Educational Instructor



News & Featured Content

  • Atlas Summer Camp

    When schools are closed, Atlas is open! Program days run from 9:00am to 6:30pm with early drop off and late pick up available. Atlas programs adhere to both social and educational standards for students to build joyful relationships and gain the ultimate learning experiences while schools are not in session.

  • Featured In Big Apple Parent Mag

    The Atlas Foundation For Autism is honored to be featured in the "Meet The Directors" section of the January 2015 issue of Big Apple Parent Magazine!

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