ACDS Westchester is Helping Parents of Young Children with Autism Take Care of Themselves

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ACDS Westchester is Helping Parents of Young Children with Autism Take Care of Themselves

While there is a litany of research on the symptoms that present with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and evidence based treatment methodologies for working with, and treating children with ASD, there is little research on evidence-based treatments for the parents of these children. Having a child with ASD causes extreme stress and even depression in parents, particularly in mothers. The diagnosis of ASD also comes at a neurodevelopmental time in a child’s life where he or she has a greater vulnerability to parental stress and depression.  Some of the factors that lead to this stress and depression are: problem behaviors the child exhibits, lack of sleep, isolation, and extreme financial pressures.  Mothers are typically so wrapped up in securing services and caring for their child, particularly during the preschool years, that they take little time for themselves. When looking at how to help mothers with children with ASD, the focus of much of the research has been on reducing the child’s behavior at home, rather than treating the mother’s stress and risk for depression directly or providing mothers with the necessary tools and parenting strategies that may prevent stress and depression.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an evidence-based treatment that has been shown to reduce stress and depression in parents. In addition, these treatments have been shown to be effective specifically in reducing parenting stress and depression particularly in mothers with special needs children. Doing MBSR in a group setting allows mothers to be with other mothers who are going through similar issues, to help them feel less isolation (one of the components that contribute to stress and depression).  Groups focusing specifically on mothers of preschoolers could enable parents to learn coping strategies closer to the age of diagnosis and during a critical neurodevelopmental stage of their child.  

In order to help mothers of preschool children with disabilities take better care of themselves, we, at ACDS Westchester, offer a free MBSR groups for mothers of children in our special education preschool program free of charge. We feel that you cannot educate a young child with special needs in a vacuum. ACDS Westchester takes a holistic approach and offers support to the entire family system as well.  So far we have run the MBSR group five times and with much success. Each group runs for six sessions two hours each.  The mothers that attend our groups learn the coping mechanisms necessary to stay calm during difficult situations, learn not compare themselves to others, learn to grieve their idealized child, in addition to learning other important skills.  Further, in every group we have run the mothers closely bond with one another allowing mothers who felt isolated previously to have a circle of support.

Special Needs Resources

Biondi Education Center

463 Hawthorne Ave., Yonkers

K-12th Grades. Their nurturing setting and individualized therapeutic support help students build their academic skills, grow their self-esteem, and learn to overcome frustration – all skills necessary for success.  At Biondi they use evidence-based approaches to work with students, which allows them to continue their academic and emotional progress. Certified Teachers and Teaching Assistants, Clinical Psychologists, School Social Workers, Speech-Language Pathologist and an Occupational Therapist support students at their Elementary and Secondary Schools. Contact Dr. Angela White, Superintendent, [email protected]

Charter School of Educational Excellence 

260 Warburton Ave, Yonkers
914- 476 -5070

CSEE encourages parents of students with special needs to apply as it provides Special Education Services for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP).  The school employs full-time certified resource room teachers, a school psychologist and counselors.  For other mandated services such as speech, occupational and physical therapy, CSEE works collaboratively with the student’s district of residence to provide these services at the school. CSEE’s director of special education services meets with each new family to review their child’s IEP and mandated services at the time of enrollment to ensure all mandated IEP services can be provided by the school.   



Music can be adapted for all skill levels to enjoy and participate. At RockonMusicSchool, David Meyers employs his “Accessible Music” strategies to motivate, encourage and connect. Specializing in Special Needs Individuals (ages 6 – adult), each one-on-one session is personal and unique for your child. Whether virtually or in-your-home, the fun fast paced lessons will have you singing, laughing and playing your favorite instruments.

SAIL at Ferncliff Manor

1154 Saw Mill River Road
Yonkers, NY 10710
914-968-4854 ext 1224

1 Cross Road
Ardsley, NY 10502

The School for Adaptive and Integrative Learning (SAIL) at Ferncliff Manor, Inc. is a New York State Education Department approved private, nonpublic school program serving residential and day students with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities. SAIL provides a wide range of supports and services including specialized instruction, intensive staff to student ratios, positive behavior interventions and supports, social services, rehabilitative therapies, dietary programming, and living accommodations for children who require specialized care offered in a comprehensive residential setting.The program’s adaptive approach ensures that all students are able to learn successfully, via pathways tailored to meet their own unique needs. SELF-DIRECTION APPROVED. Since 2017. For a limited time – Free complimentary Virtual Lesson

The Sensory Studio

1063 North Avenue, New Rochelle
[email protected]

The Sensory Studio is a newly renovated Pediatric Occupational Therapy practice in New Rochelle, focussing on in person one to one therapy for children ages 3-12. The three OT’s have over 50 years worth of experience with children and specialize in sensory integration disorders, fine motor dexterity/coordination, muscle strengthening, improving motor planning skills, and improving handwriting skills. Strict COVID medical guidelines will be adhered to & only one child will be in the gym at one time. Any questions, reach out to Laurie.

The Westchester School 

45 Park Avenue , Yonkers, NY 10703

The Westchester School is a New York State approved, non-public school that provides educational and therapeutic services to students from New York City, Westchester County, Long Island, and Connecticut.  The school views all children, regardless of functioning level or handicapping condition, as children with potential for growth and development. Historically, educational programming, particularly for the severely handicapped was primarily concerned for easing the burden of those who cared for these children. Changes in legal standards and socio-philosophical perspectives made this an excessively limited and limiting approach. The rationale for program and selection of educational objectives is based upon the developmental needs of the individual child.

Yellow Bus ABA

Home and Center Based Care throughout NY, NJ & CT
Center in Westchester
845 327 7111
[email protected]

Yellow Bus ABA is a therapy group providing consultation and intervention services for individuals of all ages who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). They have drawn upon the unique strengths of their highly experienced team of behavior specialists to employ scientifically validated teaching methodology, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), to bring quality care and intervention with lasting results. Yellow Bus ABA offers home and center based care.

Sheryl R. Frishman, JD LMSW is the Clinical Supervisor and Director of Parent & Community Outreach at ACDS Westchester. Before entering social work, Sheryl practiced law for 20 years specifically working with families with special needs loved ones. Sheryl is also the mother of Aaron, her inspiration, who has Autism. Sheryl developed and leads the MSBR groups for mothers at ACDS Westchester.