NYC’s recovery program opens new possibilities for students with disabilities

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New York City’s recovery program has proven effective and a good developmental mechanism for students living with disabilities.

Bradley, 5, who has autism and is non-verbal, often struggles to sit still and is prone to wandering. However, on a recent Saturday morning, he was calm, sprawled on a bean bag chair in a Brooklyn classroom — courtesy the recovery program.

He participated in an education department program to help make up for occupational and physical therapies that were often difficult or impossible to deliver remotely.

Sensory Exploration, Education & Discovery (SEED) is the initiative which serves students with disabilities who have sensory issues that are “dramatically impacting their school performance,” said Suzanne Sanchez, education department’s senior director of therapy services. Suzanne helps oversee the program.

The SEED program is operational. It is part of an effort supported by almost $200 million in federal relief funding. The funding is to provide students with disabilities extra services outside of the traditional school day to address pandemic disruptions, Sanchez said.

Students must be nominated by therapists or psychologists from their home schools. Once selected, students are eligible to attend at least 10 weekly 45-minute sessions where they receive help from therapists one-on-one or in small groups.

“Children have to be regulated in order to relate and then in order to reason,” Sanchez said. “The goal is that the kids internalize the sensory strategies.”

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