New Yorkers with developmental
disabilities adapt to life at home
BY BEN VERDE
Children and adults with developmental
found their routines thrown
off dramatically by the coronavirus
pandemic, leaving those
who care for them struggling
to fi ll the gaps in their days at
For Suffolk County motherof
three Chrissy Young, New
York’s stay-at-home order has
meant the end of the predictability
that her sons Nicholas
and Michael, who both have
level-three Autism, rely on.
“You and I can say ‘Oh, we’ll
go with the fl ow,'” said Young.
“But when you’re dealing with
people with disabilities, that’s
not in their playbook.”
Nicholas and Michael, 10,
and 8 respectively, now center
their days around Zoom calls
with their school — the Elija
School in Levittown. While
having something structured
to anchor them has been a lifesaver,
Young said, human contact
YOUR PARTNER IN THE
STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE
BEST PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
COURIER L 10 IFE, MAY 15-21, 2020
from teachers and classmates
has been impossible to
“Nothing is like seeing people,
and holding people, and
hugging people,” Young said.
“But we’re doing the best we
Compounding the issue, her
sons have had to go without seeing
the people they formed connections
with at school — and
with little to no explanation.
“One day they saw them
and one day they didn’t,” Young
said. “I cannot imagine, for my
boys, what that was like.”
Young resists the idea that
her sons are getting “used to”
the new normal, but admits
that there is far less trepidation
now than when their routine
was fi rst interrupted roughly
six weeks ago.
To keep her kids — who
are both non-verbal — occupied
without having anywhere
to go, Young and her husband
have taken them on drives
through Suffolk County, and
opened up their backyard pool
for them to play in after remote
learning, but there’s only so
much they can do while hunkered
“My husband and I have
learned we’re really not that exciting,”
Young attributes what success
her sons have had during
the pandemic to the Elija
School, which has not only
given students structure during
the weekdays, but has provided
parents with training too.
While Michael and Nicholas
have virtual learning to anchor
their days, structure has been
harder to maintain for adults
with developmental disabilities
who are not in a school program,
according to Lynne Koufakis,
who chairs the board of
Life’s Worc, a network of group
homes in New York City and
Many parents have had to
rely on technology to help get
them through these uncertain
— and unstructured — times.
“The computer is great, and a
curse at the same time,” said
Koufakis, whose children are
stuck spending much of their
time in front of a screen. “They
The Young family has had to adapt to life at home during the coronavirus
pandemic. Chrissy Young
BEST ATTORNEY AND
JOHN J. CIAFONE ESQ.
203 Meserole Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222
WINNER 4 YEARS IN A ROW!
BEST PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
WINNER 3 YEARS IN A ROW!
Making Sense of the Census
By Julie Menin, Director of NYC Census
In December of last year, NYC Census
2020 launched the City’s first-ever
community awards program focused on
census-related education and organizing,
the Complete Count Fund. The more
than 150 awardees serve all 245 New York
City neighborhoods in more than 80 languages.
As New Yorkers continue to shelter in
place, Complete Count Fund awardees have
had to find new ways to conduct outreach.
To that end, NYC Census 2020 has partnered
with Complete Count Fund awardees
to launch a brand new digital organizing
campaign across messaging apps like
WhatsApp, WeChat, KakaoTalk, and Viber
to help spread the word about the 2020 Census.
The campaign is based around 15 new
group chats housed on these platforms,
each designed for a different New York immigrant
and language community, from
Russian to Korean to Urdu and beyond.
These apps often serve as the primary way
community members speak to each other,
especially as they are social distancing.
Each group will act as a hub where trusted
community leaders can share key census
information and resources that other volunteers
can use to help get out the count
across their own networks.
It’s no secret that many of the communities
suffering most from COVID-19 include
immigrants and people whose first
language is not English. And as we at NYC
Census 2020 know, these same communities
tend to suffer some of the worst undercounts
in the census, which results in
them getting far less than their fair share
of funding for important public resources
like hospitals and emergency services.
These communities desperately need a
complete count to get the resources they deserve.
And to reach a complete count, New
Yorkers need ways to share information
from trusted sources and encourage their
friends, families, and neighbors to participate
in the 2020 Census.
Many New Yorkers have already been
doing similar work forming local mutual
aid groups and other groups to share information
and resources as we fight COVID-19,
but language barriers can leave many behind.
We welcome all who speak one of the
over 200 languages spoken in New York
City to join our efforts by joining a WhatsApp
group at nyc.gov/census.
Fill out the census now at my2020census.