The Birchtree Center operates the first and only special educational day program approved by the New Hampshire Department of Education that enrolls exclusively children and youth with autism. At our center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, we offer seamless and uninterrupted 12-month center-based programming.
Who We Serve
Our center serves children and youth diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in grades preK-12. Students travel to our center from Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
Many of our students are referred to The Birchtree Center by school systems interested in partnering with our staff of knowledgeable and experienced Behavior Analysts, Occupational Therapists, Speech-Language Pathologists, Special Educators, and Clinical Instructors to help students reach their full potential.
Some students are referred to our center because their challenges extend beyond the academic. For more information about our students, click here.
At The Birchtree Center, students receive individualized instruction designed to build strong foundation skills, maximize individual strengths, develop strategies for challenges (for example, auditory sensitivities), and facilitate functional communication systems. Clinical instructors rotate among the students in their classrooms in 45-90 minute-long blocks, so that each student works with several instructors over the course of the day. This kind of rotation facilitates generalization of skills and fosters relationships.
Student groups are provided throughout the day in structured and unstructured social settings. Our center’s location in Portsmouth provides ideal opportunities for students to interact with the local community and prepare for life outside of The Birchtree Center. Students visit local playgrounds, museums, nature centers, and the public library, and work with instructors to learn life skills such as shopping, laundry, and more. Some of our children attend local school programs for “typical peer” exposure and experiences.
Instructional areas include:
- Communication & Social Skills
- Self-Care & Hygiene
- Mobility & Fitness
- Behavior & Self-Regulation
- Vocational & Independent-Living Skills
- Leisure Skills & Community Participation
All student programs follow New Hampshire state education standards and frameworks. For more information about our approach, click here.
Students aged 14 years and up receive Students Achieving Independence for Life (SAIL) services, which aim to teach students the skills necessary to attain full and productive lives at home, at school, and in the community.
Duration of Enrollment
Our staff works closely with families and referring school districts to prepare students to succeed outside of our specialized program. Many of our students attend our center-based program for two to three years and then transition back to their neighborhood schools. Other students may be enrolled for longer periods of time.
Our staff is comprised of a team of board-certified behavior analysts, certified special educators, a speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist, and specially trained instructors with a bachelor’s degree or higher in a relevant field. For more information about our staff, click here.