The Birchtree Center helps students develop the communication, social, academic, behavioral, and life skills necessary for full and productive lives. We serve children and youth with autism up to age 21 in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts. Some students are served in our day school while others are served in their homes and community schools.
Our students range across the autism spectrum. Some face severe challenges, others are considered mildly impacted, and still others fall somewhere in the middle of the autism spectrum.
Many of our students face challenges that go beyond the academic. Some have difficulty executing self-care tasks such as tooth-brushing, toileting, or dressing. Others are particularly sensitive to light, sound, smell, or texture, and may become overwhelmed or anxious when faced with excessive multi-sensory stimuli.
Other students struggle with multiple challenges; for example, one of our students with autism is also blind and others have seizures. In many cases, children come to our program exhibiting severe tantrums, frequent screaming, and/or aggressive or self-injurious behaviors because they lack communication skills, self-regulation skills, and other skills necessary to meet the challenges of everyday life. With our help, many students have learned to communicate first through signs or pictures and then through words and speech. In addition to learning academic skills such as math and reading, students have mastered essential life skills such as playing catch or shopping for groceries.
When a child with autism has the skills necessary to dine in a restaurant, watch a movie in a theater, or fly in an airplane without experiencing a meltdown, the whole family benefits. With help from The Birchtree Center, many of our students and families are now able to participate more fully in community life.