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Libraries and Autism

1 in 54: 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 54 children in the United States is on the autism spectrum.  The rate is 4.3 times higher among boys than girls. The rate for ASD in boys is 1 in 34. The rate for girls is 1 in 145. (2016)

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 54 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

Articles of Interest
Most kids on the spectrum enjoy their screen time. Here is an article from the web site, Allconnect,  about Internet safety especially for Autism families.

Here’s an online article from a Speech Pathology Master’s Program website, “Tips for Speech Therapy at Home for Children with Autism.”


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.

2022-2023 Meetings
~ All Meetings are on Thursdays at 7 PM ~*

September 15, 2022
October 6, 2022
November 3, 2022
December 1, 2022
January 12, 2023 (2nd Thursday due to holidays)
February 2, 2023
March 2, 2023
April 6, 2023
May 4, 2023
June 1, 2023

*Please Note: The meetings will be held on Zoom until further notice. Interested persons may contact the Sped PAC for info on how to listen or participate in the meeting.
Contact us:
Lowell Special Education Parent Advisory Council (Lowell Sped PAC)
Lowell Public Schools
Attn: Sped PAC
155 Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
Telephone: (978) 454-1967
Like Us on Facebook: Lowell SPED PAC
Join our email list or send us questions:

Support for Siblings of Special Needs Children
UMASS Chan Medical School Department of Psychiatry in collaboration with Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) and MCPAP is offering a virtual support group for siblings of special needs children, “Supporting Siblings in 2023.” See the flyer for details – statewide sibling support flyer REVISED DEC 2022

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.

Autism Insurance Resource Center
Lunch and Learn: Webinar Series Via ZOOM

Lurie Center for Autism Parent and Caregiver Workshops
The Lurie Center for Autism invites parents, guardians, and families to participate in our Parent and Caregiver Workshops. All workshops are held virtually and open to the public.
Registration is Required.
Reserve your spot by contacting us at or 781-860-1700.
Virtual meeting links will be emailed to all confirmed registrants prior to event day.

Understanding Your Child’s New Autism Diagnosis and Next Steps
Monthly: 2nd Tuesday (January – December)
12 PM – 1 PM
Receiving a new diagnosis can be a life changing experience for caregivers. This interactive workshop is geared toward caregivers of young children. It provides support and general education about autism spectrum disorder, the treatments available, and community services available to families.

Autism 101 – 6-Session Workshop for Parents of Newly Diagnosed Children
Monthly: 1st Friday (Nov./Jan./March/May)
12 PM – 1:30 PM
Autism 101 provides interactive lesson, question and answer sessions and the opportunity to connect with other families with newly diagnosed children with autism. If you’ve found yourself typing “my child diagnosed with autism” into the google search bar, this group will help address that ‘now what’ feeling that you may have been experiencing.

To see a list of additional services, trainings, and workshops that require a fee, click here.

Department of Developmental Services Webinar for Special Needs Families: What You Need to Know (in Somali)
Learn more about Eligibility, Transition, Autism Support
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Virtual Event
For more information contact Maria Stefano at or call 781.314.7508.  Click here to register.

What Makes Your Child Tick? Understanding How Sensory Input Impacts Your Child’s Behaviors
Presented by the Autism Alliance
Virtual Program
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
This training will give you an in-depth understanding of all seven senses, the ability to identify how senses impact everyday behaviors, discovery of why children may have puzzling behaviors, directions on how to create home and classroom structures that include sensory integration theories, skills to assess impact on children and identify if it has become problematic, tools in working with children who are significantly affected by their sensory system and self-discoveries about yourself.
Click here for more information and to get the ZOOM information.

Wings for Autism with the Charles River Center of Needham, MA
Logan Airport, Boston, MA
April 1, 2023
Wings for Autism(TM) is a free program specifically designed to support families of children with autism, creating a travel test run to help ease the stress of airline travel. By getting comfortable with the airport and flight experience (without actually leaving the airport) parents and their children with special needs can gain the familiarity and confidence they need to take future trips.

By getting comfortable with the airport and flight experience (without actually leaving the airport) parents and their children with special needs can gain the familiarity and confidence they need to take future trips.

During this free, half-day event, children and their families are able to familiarize themselves with the airport and travel procedures.

They experience …
Entering the airport
The check-in process and checking bags
Security screening
Boarding the plane
Preparing for take-off
Exiting the plane
Practicing these steps helps establish a travel routine—so important for many children with autism who rely on repetition and structure.

Click here for more information or to register.

“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

Sensory Friendly Museum Afternoons
1:30 PM – 4:30 PM
March 7
April 4
May 2
June 6
October 3
November 7
December 5

Autism Friendly Evenings
5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
March 18
April 1
June 3
September 16
October 21
December 16

To register and for more information click here.

*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.

To accommodate different needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are two different versions of Morningstar. Please select the one that works best for your family.

Mask Optional Masks are recommended but not required for visitors. The Museum staff will wear masks when interacting with visitors.
Saturday, March 4, 2023, 8:00 AM – 10 AM
Friday, March 17, 2023, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM – Evening Edition!

Half price general admission ($10.00 per person)
Free for Museum members
Other discounts may apply (such as the EBT/WIC discount)

For more information or to register click here.

Saki Iwamoto, Health and Wellness Educator

Beyond the Spectrum
Museum of Fine Arts
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115

Beyond the Spectrum is a specially designed program for children and teens on the autism spectrum and their families.

Beyond the Spectrum Kids (age 8–12)
Classes offered for 8 to 12-year-olds feature close looking and discussion about artworks led by an experienced instructor, followed by a creative art-making workshop. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to participate. Classes meet one Saturday per month.
John, Bertram A., and Ronald M. Druker Family Pavilion (Classroom 159)
Ticket Required

Saturday, March 4, 2023
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Class Description: Ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses
Ancient Greek artists made sculptures as a way to show their dedication to different gods and goddesses. Join us to observe and discuss how these artists chose to depict their deities. Then, we’ll return to the studio to create our own sculptures of gods and goddesses.
Instructor: Katherine Fournier

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 art making. Students will look at and discuss MFA artworks, and then work independently on a project with guidance from an experienced instructor. Caregivers and parents are welcome to attend and participate. Classes meet one Saturday per month.
John, Bertram A., and Ronald M. Druker Family Pavilion (Classroom 159)
Ticket Required

Saturday, February 18, 2023
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Class Description: Honoring Black History
In celebration of Black History Month, join us in exploring African art history in the MFA’s African and Nubian collections, and contemporary art by Black artists in the Touching Roots exhibition. Then, create your own collage honoring an important figure in your personal or cultural history.

Saturday, March 18, 2023
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Class Description: Ancient Inspiration
What connects the past and the present? Many artists have explored this question by delving into ancient history for art inspiration. Join us to learn how some modern and contemporary artists have drawn parallels between the old world and the new. Then, make your own contemporary sculpture inspired by ancient art.

Members: $9.00
Nonmembers: $11.00

Fee for each class:
Members: 9.00
Nonmembers: 11.00

For more information or to register and purchase a ticket, click here.

AMC Sensory Friendly Films
AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! Our Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Wednesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month. Please check your local theatre listings for specific showtimes.

AMC Methuen

AMC Tyngsboro

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.

Films are on Saturdays at 10 AM but contact the cinema to confirm as dates and times may change.

Support Groups

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 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: