Out of His Head – CUNY Unlimited

Nov 15, 2018

CUNY Unlimited

CUNY has been developing a program for special needs students in their locations all around the city. The details are fuzzy, but there is some progress. At this point, they are accepting applications for the 2019/2020 school year. CUNY Unlimited is a credential program in development through a grant partnership with the University of Rochester, AHRC NYC, the NYC Department of Education, and the JFK, Jr. Institute for Worker Education. Beginning in 2019/2020, students accepted into the CUNY Unlimited program will be eligible to earn a CUNY Unlimited Achievement Certificate, capturing their college experience in a way that is valuable to the student, their communities, and future employers. Students will participate in CUNY classes and experience college life while developing the skills to take on meaningful and productive roles in their communities. This is a credentialed program which will no doubt be different from a traditional diploma. However, it does try and incorporate the training and course work the student will need to work in a variety of fields. All families should take a look at the web site to get additional information. In addition, the link to the application can be found on the right hand side of the page. Click here for more information. I wish I knew more about the program, but as it is new, we don’t have any experience with them nor do they have a track record. I would only say that it is worth looking into. Let me know if you have more information.

Great Reads…

Quite frequently I get articles referred by staff, colleagues, and parents. I try to share the good ones, but have been slacking lately. So,  I compiled some of the best and will share them here (better late than never). (Hannah Devlin)

“Thousands of autistic girls and women ‘going undiagnosed’ due to gender bias,” leading neuroscientist says

This article is really interesting. I had never paid much attention to this, partially because Billy English does such a great job of balancing male and female students in our schools. We do not reflect the norm within the larger community. Typically we think of a 10-to-1 boy to girl ratio when it comes to autism, this article claims there is more evidence for a 3-to-1 ratio. If true, the findings have a major impact on intervention and social factors that influence the outcomes of a child’s life.

Most schools I visit have overwhelming numbers of boys compared to girl populations. Prior thinking indicated that because girls have XX chromosomes, damage to one could be over ridden by the other X. The thought of underdiagnosing does make sense though with students who have mild needs. Check out the article here.

How to Help Children Calm Down: Techniques for helping kids regulate their emotions and avoid explosive behavior (Caroline Miller)

This is one of the best articles on good practice in helping our students deal with melt downs and tantrums. It is from the Child Mind Institute which repeatedly is on the cutting edge of research and practice. It is no surprise that they lead the field here. While we (and you) are doing much of this, reminders never hurt. See the article here

5 School-Night Routines Every Kid Needs: Simple rules for making school-nights more enjoyable for everyone (Sean Grover)

This article is very short for a reason—it is reinforcing the fact that we too should be short and get to the point with our students. Overwhelming them with directions and language is going to slow down or complicate the process of completing a task.

Last night, I told my daughter:

“Pick up your stuff”

“Please, I already asked you”

“Clean your room”

“Did you hear what I said?”

“I’m losing my patience – get it done now!”

To you and I, it sounds like I am making the same request over and over. But to a child with any language-based processing issue, I have said five different things—nothing discernible and nothing that clear. Our Speech and Language providers lead many workshops on effective prompting and language use when requesting the completion of a task. Say it once, make a picture cue, point, but adding more language can make things more complicated. See the article here.

Science Confirms It: People Are Not Pets
Research on the efficacy of rewards tells us that we can’t bribe others into doing what we want.
(Alfie Kohn)

If you don’t know Alfie Kohn you should. Mr. Kohn is an author and lecturer who specializes in human behavior and education. He is a prominent writer, thinker and teacher who has influenced progressive education in this country for years. His latest article is terrific, it cites the issues around rewards and merit systems using research to show the long-term effects of such systems. This is applicable to all children (and adults). Check out the article here.

It is worth listing all his books, because he is a true visionary within the field of child development.

  • No Contest: The Case Against Competition (Houghton Mifflin, 1986/1992)
  • You Know What They Say…: The Truth About Popular Beliefs (HarperCollins, 1990)
  • The Brighter Side of Human Nature: Altruism and Empathy in Everyday Life (Basic Books, 1990)
  • Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes (Houghton Mifflin, 1993/1999)
  • Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1996/2006)
  • What To Look For In A Classroom… And Other Essays (Jossey-Bass, 1998)
  • The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and “Tougher Standards”(Houghton Mifflin, 1999)
  • The Case Against Standardized Testing: Raising the Scores, Ruining the Schools (Heinemann, 2000)
  • What Does It Mean To Be Well Educated? And More Essays on Standards, Grading, and Other Follies (Beacon Press, 2004)
  • Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason (Atria Books, 2005)
  • The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing(Da Capo Books, 2006)
  • Feel Bad Education: And Other Contrarian Essays on Children and Schooling (Beacon Press, 2011)
  • The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom about Children and Parenting (Da Capo Books, 2014)
  • Schooling Beyond Measure…And Other Unorthodox Essays About Education (Heinemann, 2015)

Self-Advocate’s Guide to Choosing a Post-Secondary Program: Charting Your Course Through a New Landscape (Bethany Chase)

Self-Advocate’s Guide to Choosing a Post-Secondary Program is a guide for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families who are considering post-secondary education. Due to the efforts of self-advocates and their families, there is a national trend to provide more pathways for college participation for students with developmental disabilities. The result is an increase in the number of programs available here in New Jersey and nationwide. This guide is designed to assist students and families in the process of exploring and evaluating these programs in order to determine which college experience is right for them. (August 2018. 24 page booklet.)

Top Billing for our good friend Bethany Chase. Ms. Chase was the Transition Chair here at Cooke for 10 years before leaving for Rutgers University. She now brings us this new guide. It is a comprehensive look at the important issues in choosing a 21+ service and a must for all families, plus it is FREE! Truly a helpful read in understanding the 21+ environment and an aid in guiding you and your family’s choices. Download for FREE here


Family Movie Night :November 16th
Cooke Academy, 60 Macdougal Street – 6:00pm
Upstairs: a great film, popcorn, pizza! Downstairs: adult stuff, meet and greet other families. This is not a drop off, but we invite everyone in the family (siblings included). All are welcome.
Looking forward to seeing you!

About Eleanor’s Secret
Parents need to know that Eleanor’s Secret is a 2010 French animated family treat that will enchant kids with its reverence for fairy tales and emphasis on the importance of make-believe. The action begins after the death of a beloved aunt who read stories aloud. Her absence means that characters from the world’s great children’s literature she loved so much, face the possibility of disappearing. Her young nephew Nat, who struggles with reading aloud, is anointed “The Great Reader” by his aunt, and charged with saving the stories. A wicked witch shrinks him to the size of his books’ illustrations, and from that disadvantage, he must evade such terrors as a normal-sized toddler’s grabby hands, a crab’s pincers, and other magnified perils as he labors to save the fairy tales.



This community-building parent event (adults only) gathers Cooke families together to enjoy a fun night out! During the event, we will feature Cooke student art, some of which will be on sale (perfectly timed for holiday shopping!).  We’ll also showcase Cooke’s new school building.


FREE childcare will be provided—for Cooke students only— at Cooke’s SKILLs facility, 254 West 29th Street (2 blocks away from the venue). You can register for FREE childcare after confirming your tickets. (* Registration for FREE childcare must be submitted by November 21st.)

The cost for the event is $75 per person, however, we want all families to be able to come so please do not be deterred from attending due to cost. We will ensure that accommodations are made so everyone can be included. Click here to request sponsored tickets.

We hope you will join us!


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Planning Giving

Legacy giving is very important to Cooke’s sustainability.  Please contact Michael Eaton at Advancement@Cookeschool.org for more information.

Through the Affinity Membership Program, TD Bank will make an annual contribution to Cooke School based on the activity of all participating members’ TD Bank accounts.

Eligible accounts include:

  • Checking – Business & Consumer

  • Savings

  • Money Market

  • Certificate of Deposit

  • Retirement

If you are already a TD Bank customer, please visit any one of their locations and ask to have your balances included as part of the Cooke’s Affinity Membership Program (code: A1923).

Please see the Affinity Membership Program flyer for more information.