For the past 12 months, two of eVero’s valued employees, Receptionist and Outreach Coordinator Joe Malebranche and Support Triage Technician Patrick Clare, have been part of Nassau-Suffolk Services for Autism’s (NSSA) new Self-Direction Transition Program. The goal of this program is to prepare enrollees for a more inclusive, independent, and successful adult life utilizing NSSA’s Lifelong Learning Curriculum. Over a two-year period, the curriculum focuses on Career Development, Money Management, Nutrition, Shopping and Purchasing, Cooking, Health and Wellness, Safety, Transportation, Relationships, Conflict Resolution, Leisure and Exercise, Technology, Independent Living, and participation in the community. Through structured, small group instruction, attention is focused on skill acquisition and personal development with ongoing assessment of mastery and continued need. The 2-year program was created by NSSA, and is held in partnership with the Bellmore-Merrick School District under the leadership of Program Director, Jason K. Watson BCaBA, CBAA-NY.

We sat down with Joe and Patrick for a brief question and answer session to learn about their experiences to date:


How did you learn about the NSSA Self-Direction Transition Program?

Joe Malebranche (JM): I learned about it through the Bellmore Merrick Central High School District coordinator, who reached out to me and told me that there having an NSSA program and it’s going to be run at the Brookside building for two years. Once I said I was interested, they did a virtual meeting with the Director, myself and my father, to learn more about the program.

Patrick Clare (PC): I learned about it through my parents, at the time I was living at my parents’ house and they informed me about it and I thought it would be a good learning experience. I have gotten to meet a bunch more people in the program and have also learned about different things.


Is there a schedule for the topics that you will learn over the two years or do you find out the new subjects on a class by class basis or week by week?

JM: They do provide us with a Power Point for each topic that we go over. We’ve gone over COVID Safety, CPR, Mental Health and Cooking. We go over each topic one by one, and they introduce them individually.


What were you most interested to learn about, and was there anything that surprised you?

JM: For me it was Money Management and Budgeting, because it will help me manage my money and keep track of it, and how much I spend throughout the weeks.

PC: I think that has to be Money Management but I also like Relationships and Friendships. Also, I recently moved out of my parents’ house and one of the things that has helped me is that I’ve learned cooking. Working with the person who comes to help me, I do cook and try to make healthier foods.


Aside from you two knowing each other from work did you meet new people in the class or were they individuals you already knew?

JM & PC: It was a mixture of both, people we know and people we didn’t know – there is a total of seven people in our class.


Are there any topics that you haven’t gone over yet but you’re interested in learning about?

JM: After we come back from this break we will be learning about health and wellness and hygiene, which I am interested in.

PC: I think for me it would be doing my laundry since I will be doing it at a Laundromat in the future. I am used to doing it at my parent’s house. I do my dress shirts and regular shirts and I would like to know more on how to do other laundry too.


With all of the topics that you have explored so far in the first year of the two-year program is there anything that you were able to apply or really happy to have learned and take into the real world?

JM: We just finished watching a Netflix series called Love on the Spectrum. It showed how people with autism discuss their personal matters with other people that they were looking to go on a date with. From seeing that and seeing how people with autism manage with that, it brought ideas to people about dating, relationships and finding a significant other.

PC: Cooking and Budgeting, I feel more comfortable cooking and cooking at my parent’s house and my apartment and trying different recipes.


Is there anything you would want to share to other who are interested or unsure if they are ready to take the class?

PC: To me the class is very welcoming and the teacher makes everybody feel included. He greets everyone says goodbye, to everyone. He gets us used to meeting him in the beginning and going to the classroom so we all know what room to go to. He slowly gets us used to going there ourselves and is very supportive.


The second year of the class, is it a similar set of topics or will you be going over new topics?

JM: We’ll review what we learned in the first year and then there will be a few more topics that will be taught.


Are you able to suggest to them topics that you would like to be covered?

JM: Yes, we can suggest topic ideas to them. They also said if there is topic that we feel we know a lot about we could give a lecture on a topic to the entire class. I did bring something up to them and I am going to be giving a lecture on topic that we do here in a 6-week program that I will be sharing at Brookside during the second year.


Please visit to learn more about NSSA.

Details on the Self-Direction Transition Program can be found at