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7Libraries and Autism

1 in 68: Autism Spectrum Resources for Families

NEWS!  The U.S. Center for Disease Control has released its most recent statistics for autism rates.  The new statistics show 1 in 68 children in the United States is on the autism spectrum.  One out of 42 boys is affected by autism.(March 2014)

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 68 children in the United States is on the autism spectrum. Youth Services Staff has compiled a list of autism spectrum resources for families. The best place to start, if you suspect your child might be on the spectrum, is to have your child screened. The earlier your child starts therapies, the better. If your child is under age three there are two local agencies, South Bay Early Intervention and Thom Anne Sullivan Center, that provide screening services. If your child is age three or older, contact the Lowell Public Schools for assistance.

Information contained on this web page does not constitute library endorsement of a treatment, agency or advocacy group. The library maintains that it is up to the parent/legal guardian to determine proper treatment for his/her child. This web page is solely a place of information for the huge array of materials related to Autism Spectrum Disorders.

If your family uses a service or has a favorite autism spectrum web site that is not listed, please let us know so we can share with others in the community. Contact Molly Hancock, Coordinator of Youth Services at


From the Autism Division of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS):
Autism Waiver Program Open Registration October 17 – October 31, 2019
This program is for children younger than 9 years diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder who exhibit severe behavior and social and communication problems. Through a program called Expanded Habilitation Education, intensive in-home services and supports are provided. This program provides three years of intensive services.

For more information about this program including eligibility requirements and how to apply click here.

Upcoming Events in the Library

Upcoming Events and Opportunities in the Community

Lowell Special Education Parent Advisory Council (Lowell Sped PAC)
The Lowell Special Education Parent Advisory Council (Sped PAC) is an organization run by parents of children receiving special education services through the Lowell School Department.  It was created to share information about special education and promote understanding between parents and the school department.

2019 – 2020 Meetings

Meetings are held the first Thursday of the month October through June at the Stocklosa Middle School. The school is located at 560 Broadway Street. Enter through the door opposite the basketball courts. There is plenty of parking. Meetings begin at 7:00 P.M.
Visitors are always welcome.

All Meetings are on Thursdays
Sept. 19, 2019 – (3rd Thurs. due to start of school)
October 3, 2019 – Newcomers Night
November 7, 2019
December 5, 2019
January 9, 2020 – (2nd Thurs. due to holiday)
February 6, 2020
March 5, 2020
April 2, 2020
May 7, 2020
June 4, 2020
There will be a variety of speakers in the 2019-20 school year. For specific speaker info., please contact the Sped PAC or check our Facebook page.

In the event of bad weather or another emergency, meeting cancellations will be announced through email and Facebook. If Lowell Public Schools cancels school, there is no meeting.

Lowell Public Schools
Attn: Sped PAC
155 Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA  01852
Tel: (978) 454-1967

Like us on Facebook: Lowellspedpac

Tyngsborough Special Education Parent Advisory Council
Tyngsborough High School Library
36 Norris Rd.
Tyngsborough, MA  01879

Tyngsborough SEPAC Contact Information – E-mail:
For more information about these workshops or the Tyngsborough SEPAC, click here.

UMASS Lowell Center for Autism Research and Education (CARE)
The University of Massachusetts Lowell has a Center for Autism Research and Education (CARE) which focuses on research and education to improve the lives of those with ASD and their families. They conduct research studies related to ASD and provide some services such as an Autism Support Group for parents of young children (up to age 6) on the Autism Spectrum and a monthly social networking program called “The Network” for young people ages 16 – 30 years on the high end of the autism spectrum.  For more information, visit the CARE website.

Workshop – Basic Rights: Evaluation and Eligibility
Monday, October 16, 2019
6:45 PM
Chelmsford High School
200 Richardson Road
Chelmsford, MA 01824
Monday, October 16, 2019
6:45 PM
Thursday, October 17, 2019
Tewksbury High School
320 Pleasant St.
Tewksbury, MA 01876
7 PM
This workshop for parents and caregivers is presented by the Federation for Children with Special Needs and is an introduction to special education laws and procedures.
For more information click here.

Boston Pops Sensory Friendly Holiday Pops Concert
Boston Symphony Hall
301 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Saturday, December 7, 2019
10 AM
For the first time the Boston Pops will be offering a sensory friendly concert. The concert will be a shortened, 60 minute version of the Holiday Pops concert.
There will be special modifications for children and adults on the spectrum such as reduced volume and lightning levels, a designated quiet room and more. There will also be credentialed autism volunteers on site.
For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

“Especially for Me” Free Evenings and Afternoons for Families with Children on the Autism Spectrum
The Discovery Museums
177 Main Street (Route 27)
Acton, Massachusetts 01720
Phone: 978.264.4200

The Especially for Me program offers dedicated hours and free admission for families with children with developmental challenges.  Registration is required.  Click here for more information or to register.

Autism-Friendly Evenings
5 PM – 8 PM
September 28
November 16

Sensory-Friendly Afternoons
1:30 PM – 4:30 PM
October 1
November 5
December 3

Registration is required for these events.
Click here for more information or to register.
*The Especially for Me program is offered in collaboration with Autism Alliance of MetroWest.

Morningstar Access at Boston Children’s Museum
Special Needs children and their families can visit the museum during a time when there are only a few other visitors. The number of guests is limited to 100.
Upcoming Dates:

Monday, October 14, 2019
8 AM – 10 AM

Saturday, November 16, 2019
6 PM – 8 PM

All guests must pay admission at the Admissions Desk upon arrival.
Non-members: 8.50 per person
Members: Free

Contact: Saki Iwamoto, Health and Wellness Educator
Click here for registration information.

AMC Sensory Friendly Films
Check with the specific theater for showtimes. Dates and times may be subject to change. Click here for more information about this program.

AMC Methuen

AMC Tyngsboro

Ad Astra
September 24, 2019

September 28, 2019

O’Neil Cinemas
Sensory Friendly Flix: Lowered sound levels and higher house lights
1208 Constitution Ave.
Littleton, MA

A great program for families affected by Autism or other disabilities. See a movie on the big screen with NO loud noises and higher house lights for better visibility. Fun, friendly environment. Select films and showtimes.

All shows are at 10:00 AM. Dates and shows are subject to change without notice.

October 5

Gemini Man
October 19

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
October 26

Arctic Justice Thunder Squad
November 9

Charlie’s Angels
November 23

Frozen 2
November 30

Jumanji 3
December 21

Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker
December 28

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Beyond the Spectrum
Beyond the Spectrum is a specially designed program for children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Beyond the Spectrum (age 8-12)
Classes offered for 8 to 12-year-olds feature a structured gallery tour led by an experienced instructor, followed by a creative art-making workshop. Children must be accompanied by a parent or caregiver. Classes meet one Saturday per month.
Adventures in Art for Children on the Spectrum ages 8 – 12 years
John, Bertram A. and Ronald M. Druker Family Pavilion (Classroom 159)
Please meet the instructors in Room 159 by 10:20 AM.

Classes are on select Saturdays.

Saturday, October 5, 2019
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Class Description: Marvelous Masks
Masks are used across the globe as part of celebrations and rituals, from ancient Egyptian mummies to modern Halloween costumes! Join us to learn about the importance of masks in many cultures, and then return to the studio to make your own mask masterpieces.
Instructor: Ali Cohen

Saturday, November 2, 2019
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Class Description: Photo Perspectives
Photographers use their cameras to show the world the way they see it. Join us to explore the realistic, imaginary, and fantastic perspectives found in photos. Then, return to the studio to make your own photo transfer collages.
Instructor: Ali Cohen

Saturday, December 7, 2019
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Class Description: Amazing Abstraction
How do artists create images and inspire emotions using just color, texture, shape, and line? Look at examples of abstract paintings and prints, and learn about these important elements of art. Then, return to the studio to make your own abstract prints.
Instructor: Ali Cohen

Beyond the Spectrum Teen Studio (age 13-18)
Classes offered for 13 to 18-year-olds focus on specific art topics and incorporate discussion, critical inquiry, and sketching in the galleries. Students then work independently on a project with guidance from an experienced instructor. Caregivers and parents are welcome, but are not required to attend. Classes meet one Saturday per month.
For teens ages 13 – 18 years
John, Bertram A. and Ronald M. Druker Family Pavilion (Classroom 159)
Please meet the instructors in Room 159 by 10:20 AM.

Saturday, September 21, 2019
10:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Class Description: Mindful Mandalas

Many artists create art as a way to focus, meditate, or calm down. Join us to explore examples of meditative artworks and participate in a mindfulness activity. Then, return to the studio to make your own mindful sand mandala.

Instructor: Ali Cohen

Saturday, October 19, 2019
10:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Class Description: Behind the Mask

Masks are used across the globe as part of celebrations and rituals, and often have deep histories within a culture. Learn about the uses and significance of different types of masks, and then return to the studio to create a plaster mask that represents something unique about yourself.

Instructor: Ali Cohen

Saturday, November 16, 2019
10:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Class Description: Photographic Perspectives

Photographers use their cameras to express unique points of view about the world and humanity. Explore the realistic, imaginary, and fantastic perspectives in photos from the MFA’s collection, and then return to the studio to express your own perspective in a photo transfer collage.

Instructor: Ali Cohen

Saturday, December 14, 2019
10:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Class Description: Powerful Prints

Printmaking is an art form that allows artists to easily make multiple copies of an image, and to experiment with color, composition, and layering. Join us to see examples of visually and emotionally powerful prints, and then return to the studio to carve and print your own linoleum block.

Instructor: Ali Cohen

Tickets are required for these programs and cost $9 per attendee. Visit the Beyond the Spectrum page for ticket information.

For information about the Beyond the Spectrum program, click here, email, or call 617-369-4027.

Care Farming at The Maker Farm
5 Gould Road
Westford, MA 01886

Care farming promotes mental and physical health by combining the care of animals and the natural world with the care of people. On a Care Farm, people, animals, and the earth work together to promote health and well-being. Join, Beth Frankel, LSW, to enjoy the many benefits of the fresh air, outdoors, gardening, and interaction with the farm animals. We will participate in meaningful outdoor and farm activities encouraging increased self confidence, social interaction, and independence.
Group or individual programming available for youth, adults, seniors, special needs, disabled, and underserved populations.
For a list of programs click here.
For additional programming information, please contact Beth Frankel, LSW, at or 978-697-3798.

Launch, Methuen, MA
96A Milk St.
Methuen, MA 01844

Open exclusively to guests with special needs, along with their families
Last Sunday of every month from 6:00PM – 8:00PM
Launch in Methuen, MA wants to be a safe space for our jumpers with special needs. V.I.P. Time is a quieter, private time open exclusively to these jumpers and their families. One parent or guardian gets to jump for free, and siblings are welcome to join in the fun too!

Museum of Science Disability Prototype Tester
The Museum of Science, Boston, seeks people with a variety of abilities and disabilities to help improve the museum offerings, such as exhibits and programs. Those with, but not limited to, sensory, physical, and cognitive disabilities, can be contacted to test new exhibit prototypes and explore the museum.
Interested participants will come to the Museum of Science to interact with exhibit prototypes or explore other existing museum experiences. Testing could last anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes and will always include free admission to the Museum of Science exhibit halls for the day and free parking in the Museum’s garage.
If you would like to help the Museum of Science become more accessible by providing feedback during an upcoming testing session, please fill out this online form.
This form asks for your contact information as well as some details about the group you plan to visit the Museum with. If you prefer to fill out this form over the phone instead of online, please contact Sunewan Chunhasuwan, a Research and Evaluation Assistant, at 617-589-4438. You may also email with any questions at

Support Groups

Parent Support Group
These free meetings are open to anyone parenting a child or adolescent with behavioral or mental health special needs.
The meetings are held in Lowell on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month from 6 PM – 7:45 PM.  Contact for location.
RSVP: Nancy Collier, Family Support Specialist, 508-688-5739 or
This program is a collaboration between MSPCC, PPAL, CTI and DMH

Transition Planning Group
Meetings are held on the first and third Mondays of the month from 6 PM – 7:45 PM.
CTI Lowell
126 Phoenix Ave., 3rd Floor, Room 3
RSVP: Nancy Collier, 508-688-5739 or
In Collaboration: CTI, MSPCC & PPAL

Support Group for Parents of Children with Special Needs
Pediatrics West, PC
133 Littleton Road
3rd Floor Conference Room
Westford, MA  01886
7 PM – 8:30 PM
Call Alison at 978-577-0414 for more information.

Spanish Support Group
Tower Building
60 Island St., Lawrence, MA
Meets 3rd Friday of the month
9:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Contact: Gloria Ricardi Castillo at 978-624-2301 or
Sponsored by the Northeast Arc

Down Syndrome-Autism Connection Group
DS-Autism Connection (DSAC) is for parents whose children have both Down syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder. DSAC has 30 active families who meet once monthly by online chat to discuss the issues and challenges unique to the Down Syndrome-Autism community. Experts in the field often present on various topics relating to dual diagnosis. New members are welcome. DSAC is an affiliate of the Massachusetts Down Sydrome Congress. For more information visit the Down Syndrome Autism Connection’s website or email or

Special Summer Camps

Camp Starfish
According to their web page – “Our positive approach, engaging philosophy and overall experience is different. Camp Starfish provides a 1:1 staff-to-camper ratio at all times to enable success, build social skills, teach coping mechanisms, and help children who have difficulty finding success in traditional settings. We are a one-of-a-kind summer camp, year-round support and advocate for children and families.”  Click here for more information.

Autism in the News

From LifeLinks:
Planning for Life After Special Education: Transition Services Online Manual

The Disability Law Center in Boston has revised their manual ‘Planning for Life After Special Education’ and it is available online for FREE. They have made several significant changes, including new information on the following topics:
-Developing appropriate transition services for students with severe developmental disabilities
-Helping your student transition successfully into the adult workforce
-Knowing the various diploma options and determining which option is best for your child

The second edition of this manual also provides revised case summaries, thirteen new informational videos in English, Spanish, and ASL, and information on how to manage public benefits.

This amazing resource is available online for free. If you have a child approaching transition age, this is a must read!

Leading the Way: Autism Friendly Youth Organizations

Autism Speaks has created a guide for community organizations to help them better serve children with autism and their families.  This information is available online.

Autism Speaks has created the online resource, Postsecondary Educational Opportunities.


Autism Blogger – Online Autism Support Group
Accepting Asperger’s Syndrome – This is a crash course to accepting your Asperger’s!

Parents of Special Needs Kids Meet Ups: This is an online resource of groups and meetings in the Boston area. Link: