Our mission is to partner with families and our community to capitalize on the strengths of our neurodiverse students. We do this through an individualized teaching model to ensure academic, language, behavioral, and social-emotional success.

We celebrate variations of how they think, learn, and process information. Every student’s learning style is respected to foster self-confidence, resilience and autonomy. We have created a school community experience that works effectively for all.

We celebrate our students for who they are by:

  • Embracing their uniqueness, talents, and passions
  • Bridging the gap of all neurotypes
  • Teaching self-advocacy skills and encouraging autonomy
  • Committing to their success in a welcoming community that embraces diversity and inclusion

Why the SAS School?

Rooted in over 25 years of practical experience, SAS is equipped to identify and support unique learning styles in a school community environment experience. We teach children to recognize the unique accommodations and modifications they need to be successful in all areas of their development. We are researchers, experimenters and practitioners that have incorporated evidence-based best practices and elements from school, home, and center-based learning methodologies.  We are parent, community, and school-centric, and firmly believe that this is your school and community. Parent input in all aspects of the educational experience ensures a cohesive community, where everyone is pulling in the same direction for the betterment of each student.

SAS is a 12-month program for students ages 4-13 years-old. Our school provides low student to teacher ratios of up to 8 students in each class. We offer 1:1, 2:1, and 3:1 instructional models.  Each model is custom designed for the student, utilizing accommodations and modifications as necessary, to ensure that they learn at their own pace in a customized leaning space.  Each class is led by a New York State Certified Head Special Education Teacher who is behaviorally trained. We also provide each of our students with individual and group speech therapy, individual and group occupational therapy, and counseling. Our dynamic teaching team also includes a full-time Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who designs Behavior Intervention Plans for eligible students. Physical Therapy is available on site as an added service. Our goal is always to promote each student to the least restrictive model internally as we prepare them for ex-mission to a less restrictive school setting when ready.


My Story

The Shirley Aninias School is a culmination of 25 years of educational experience specializing in neurodiverse learners coalesced into a teaching philosophy that all children can learn in a community-based group setting with their peers.  Having found success year after year developing programs based on this philosophy, Shirley made the decision to create a school in her name to ensure the longevity of her educational philosophy and to stand proudly behind it.

ABOUT | Shirley Aninias, M.A.,TSHH


Shirley started her career in Tribeca 25 years ago treating children with developmental delays. Tribeca has always been her professional home and she is thrilled to be home again to introduce The Shirley Aninias School. Shirley received her Master’s degree in Special Education with a specialization in behavioral disorders from Teacher’s College at Columbia University. She received her undergraduate degree in Communications Disorders at Kean University.

Shirley started teaching in the New York City public school system teaching learning disabled elementary students. She later accepted a position at YAI/ NYL Lifestart, a premier New York City based not for profit organization. Shirley was a Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) and worked with developmentally delayed children aged 0-5 years.

She went on to become a lead ABA SEIT whose responsibilities consisted of designing individualized home and school curriculum and leading educational teams for early intervention and preschool cases. She worked intensively with speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists and physicians to design effective programs for each of her students. In addition to being a SEIT, she also provided parent- training sessions. Shirley then took on a supervisory role at YAI/NYL Lifestart as an ABA field specialist. As a Specialist, Shirley supervised home and school-based cases for early intervention and preschool students.

Shirley’s passion for teaching, and a desire to share her innovative I-LEARN-THROUGH-PLAY™  approach to social skills development, led to the creation of Ready, Set, Play! in 2007. Ready, Set, Play! is a therapeutic social skills playgroup for neuro-diverse children. In 2010, Shirley accepted a position at Queens College as an adjunct professor teaching graduate students in the Educational and Community Program in Special Education. Shirley is also an accomplished speaker and has given professional development seminars at several area schools and organizations.

Shirley currently offers after-school playgroups and social skills enrichment classes through Ready, Set, Play! Shirley continues to consult with families, schools, provides private home/school-based therapy for children, and continues to develop new and innovative teaching methods through Ready, Set, Play!


Shirley Aninias is the person my son always speaks about. Shirley is my son’s former principal and my son accounts for his time with her as the best time of his life. It’s amazing when a school leader can have such an impact on her students. Shirley is full of grit and passion.

Shirley is a fierce advocate for the children and families she serves. Even as my son transitioned Shirley remains the center of his favorite academic experiences. Most recently my son said “ I love my school but I always think of Shirley” it reminded me of the importance of leaders that  lead with love.

Parent of a former Shirley student

Shirley Aninias is the best!  The eight years she worked with our son were life-changing for him and our family.  He required full-time 1:1 support in school and an exhaustive schedule of related services when he first started seeing Shirley, but today, he’s a fully independent and successful freshman in a demanding mainstream high school.

Shirley’s expertise, personalized and carefully calculated programming, care, and advocacy has made the biggest difference for my son.

Parent of a former Shirley student

I am so thankful to have found Shirley and her team.  My son has been with them for a little over a year and, during that time, my son’s social and coping skills have improved to the point that extended family members comment on the positive changes they see in him.

have also been impressed with the academic success that he has achieved during this time.  Shirley and her team provide consistent support throughout the school year and that level of support is priceless.

Parent of a former Shirley student

Shirley as been a member of our family since she began coming to our home [23] years ago when my son, Eric, was [4] years old.  Shirley was his ABA provider. She was so caring and compassionate and knew exactly how to make Eric be accepted and included in school with his mainstream peers.  Even after Eric aged out of services, Shirley remained in our lives to this day.  Eric graduated from high school, attended Westchester Community College and graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a degree in Theater: Writing for the Stage. Eric lived in the city in his college dorm and in a private apartment with roommates.

He’s still living in Manhattan and has been building his theater production/theater administration/stage management career on and off Broadway.  He’s the co-founder and Executive Director of Unlimited Stages, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit multi-entertainment theater and production company which provides an inclusive stage for creatives from all walks of life to engage, explore and create without limitations.  You can learn more about Eric and Unlimited Stages at www.unlimitedstages.com

Parent of a former Shirley student

Shirley and her entire team are extraordinary—talented, experienced, resourceful, and extremely kind.  They listen, understand and believe in neurodivergent kids, figure out solutions that work, and implement them successfully. 

Words cannot express how grateful we are for SAS‘s support not only of our daughter but also us as parents.  At SAS, our daughter has the support she needs to learn and thrive, and we are part of a powerful and inspiring community.

Parent of a former Shirley student


Shirley is an exceptional teacher who is dedicated to helping her students achieve their academic goals and personal growth.  My son had the pleasure of being a student of Shirley’s 20 years ago! and her passion for teaching coupled with her knowledge in the field of autism and other disabilities is incredibly vast.

She created a positive learning environment that fostered curiosity and creativity, and she was always available to answer questions and provide guidance. Shirley’s teaching style is engaging and dynamic, and she uses a variety of teaching methods to ensure that all students are able to understand the material. She is patient, empathetic, and supportive, and she always encourages her students to strive for excellence. Shirley is a compassionate and caring individual who genuinely cares about the well-being of her students. She takes the time to get to know each student personally and creates a safe and inclusive classroom environment where everyone feels valued and respected.

Overall, I highly recommend Shirley Aninias as a teacher in New York City. Her dedication, expertise, and compassion make her an outstanding

Parent of a former Shirley student