STEP 1 is a comprehensive two-year educational /vocational/independent living program for post-secondary students with learning challenges.

This program is designed to maximize each young adult’s growth by utilizing a supportive, individualized approach for transition from home or boarding school to community, work, and post-secondary academics.

Living & Education

GIANT STEP is located in Hauppauge, New York, the heart of Long Island, equidistant from Manhattan and Montauk in a tree lined 650 unit luxury apartment complex complete with swimming pools, tennis courts, and a fitness center. The Giant Step office makes it convenient for students to communicate with staff members who are located a few seconds from their doors.  There are one, two, and three bedroom apartments throughout the complex. Typically, our students rent an apartment with one or two roommates, although some may desire the privacy of their own apartment.

Within walking distance from the complex is a shopping plaza with a supermarket, restaurants, and many other convenient stores.  The Hauppauge Public Library is a short walk from the apartments, and the Long Island Railroad is ten minutes away. We are also just a fifteen minute drive to Macarthur Airport.

Though predominantly residential, the Hauppauge area is home to a major industrial park as well as Suffolk County’s Municipal Buildings.  It is therefore a wonderful source of employment opportunities for our students. Our central location is also only 20-30 minutes from:

Adelphi University’s Hauppauge Center

Suffolk Community College (Ammerman campus)

Suffolk Community College (Grant campus)

SUNY Stony Brook

SUNY Farmingdale

St. Joseph’s College


Students who attend these colleges may utilize our transportation to and from campus.



The learning process at Giant Step takes place both in and out of the classroom. The staff and students are integrated within an active vibrant community.  Whether in the context of formal training or casual communication, there is consistent emphasis on positive sharing, teamwork, and community integration.


Students spend most weekdays developing the necessary skills for successful independent lives. They spend half of each day in work training, an internship, paid employment, college classes, or a combination thereof. Open enrollment at Suffolk County Community College gives any student the opportunity to test the waters of higher education.


Students may also enroll in 4 year colleges and universities in the area.  To do so, however, the student must submit a separate application for enrollment and gain acceptance into the institution. Academic supports, such as time management, proofreading and study skills are available through our program.


For the majority of our students, formal job training and work experience provide another route toward growth and independence.


Some of our students may opt for a combined academic and job training program. We believe that even our most highly talented academic students benefit from a supportive vocational experience. Students are often offered paid jobs, which enables them to budget for food, social activities, and daily needs.



The other half of the students’ day consists of individual and group supports as well as formal classes in independent living skills. The individual meetings and small group instruction are in areas such as:


Meal planning




Apartment Organization


Classroom experiences take place at Adelphi University’s Hauppauge Center and in the students’ apartments. Courses include:



Health and Human Sexuality (1 Year)

Interpersonal Communication (2 Years)

Financial Seminar (2 years)

Career Enhancement (1 Year)

Critical Reasoning (2 Years)

Community Integration (1 Year)

World Issues (1 year)

Social Life & Admissions

Students at Giant Step come from all over the world. The diverse population offers enormous possibilities for social interactions and growth. Roommates, other community members, as well as teachers, co-workers, counselors and job supervisors provide a vast range of communication experiences. Individual counseling and interpersonal communications classes provide a formal framework for developing and exploring strategies to enhance all levels of interaction. On weekday evenings and Sundays, there are a variety of enrichment activities offered.

Some examples are:


Fitness Club at the YMCA in Bay Shore

Dance Instruction at the YMCA

Weight Watchers/Nutrition

Art Club

The Culinary Experience

Community Integration/ Trip Planning


These activities broaden the students’ horizons and provide an additional backdrop for socialization and communication. Each weekend is marked by organized social activities. Students choose from local activities such as movies, restaurants, plays, sporting events, amusement parks, and beaches. There are also trips to New York City for Broadway shows or museums as well as full weekend trips to places such as:

Foxwoods Resort

Mystic Seaport in Connecticut

Hershey Park in Pennsylvania

Frost Valley Environmental Center in the Catskill Mountains

Washington D. C.

Williamsburg, Virginia 


Each year, there are exciting week long trips such as:


Disney World

  The Western Unites States

    Europe or the Caribbean


All students are encouraged to participate and broaden their horizons as well as to just have fun.



Most Students who enter STEP 1 do so between June and September. Exceptions can be made for special circumstances. The summer months are preferable for many reasons, including the curriculum continuity and the availability of potential roommates.

The process involves filling out an application and sending documentation including a WAIS and two letters of recommendation.  We interview every student who is considered for acceptance and take a social history from a parent. When the application process is complete, we will notify the student within three weeks.




For an appointment to visit the program or to get further information please contact David Finkelstein at (631) 972-5604.

Social Advisement

Each Step I student is assigned a social advisor. The social advisors, typically Social Workers, have years of experience working with special needs young adults. Step I students meet weekly with their social advisors with additional meetings as needed. Social advisor and students address areas such as transitioning to independence, social situations, and any other areas that may be causing the students concern. Social Advisement is also available to Step 2 students. Students may also be referred for outside psychotherapy if necessary.