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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


During this time of schools being closed, the Special Education Department for Lowell Public Schools does have an informational link for families on the LPS web page.  They provide resources specifically for special needs families as well as general recommended educational resources as well as information about the current situation and Lowell Public Schools.

Make sure to regularly check Lowell Sped PAC on Facebook for ongoing helpful information.

A Resource for Families/Caregivers During the Coronavirus Emergency
Understood is an organization whose purpose is to provide resources for special needs people and their supporters to help them navigate the world. They have provided online resources for special needs people and their families to explain the Coronavirus and what is happening as a result of the virus. This information is helpful for all families, not just special needs families.
Understood also provide some tips about activities to keep kids busy at home.  Click here for this information.

Looking for a social story to help explain novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? Download a social story to help explain what’s happening.

Notice: The Lowell Police Department has initiated a Safe Watch Program. This program is aimed at individuals who have a disability or condition that would cause them to wander from their safe environment.
The Safe Watch Program proactively gathers pertinent and recent information about the individual. Should a person go missing, the police are immediately prepared to begin an informed search with the goal of finding the person as quickly as possible.
Responsible family members can fill out an online form. The form can also be updated as needed. For more information including a link to the form, click here.

Celebrate Autism Awareness Month with Autism Eats!
Thursday, April 2, 2020
6 PM – 8 PM
Mooyah – Billerica
199 Boston Rd.
North Billerica, MA
The entire restaurant is reserved for this event which includes surprise entertainment.
Tickets are $15 per person. Reservations are required. Click here to reserve your spot or for more information.

Upcoming Events in the Library

Special Friends Playgroup for Special Needs Families
Select Saturdays at 10 AM
January 18
February 1
March 14
Come and play with us! We’ll sing songs, play games, move and groove, and more!
For all special needs children and their families. Siblings are always welcome!
For more information contact Molly Hancock, Coordinator of Youth Services at 978-674-1527 or at

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 – Prior to the regular meeting, at 6 PM there will be a special workshop about IEP’s.*
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.

UMASS Lowell Study – Looking for Participants
Dr. Robai Werunga is conducting a study to determine some of the struggles and challenges facing immigrant families with children with disabilities in Lowell and the Merrimack Valley region. She is looking for parents to participate in an interview. The interview will last approximately 60 minutes and those that participate will receive a $25 gift certificate. The information gathered will be used to design workshops for immigrant families of students with disabilities.
Robai Werunga, PhD
*Research funded by University of Massachusetts, Lowell Internal SEED Grant

Boston Pops Sensory Friendly Concert for Very Young People

BSO Family Concert
Saturday, March 14, 2020 at noon
Come here the Boston Symphony Orchestra perform excerpts from orchestral classics in a welcoming and inclusive setting! The concert length will last for one hour and is designed for children ages 3-8 and will have sensory-friendly accommodations in place for those diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, however, this concert is welcoming to all!
The concert day will include:

11am: Doors for the concert will open. Due to the changeover from the 10am BSO Family Concert, there will be no pre-concert activity hour, however, there will be tables set up throughout the hall for coloring activities.

12pm: BSO Family Concert – this concert will take place in the main hall, however, there will be raked rows of seating on the orchestra floor (rather than the Pops flat floor and table set up).

1pm: Post-show Instrument Playground

Tickets are $20 and kids under 18 attend for FREE!
You can reserve your tickets by calling 617-266-1200 or clicking here for tickets or for more information.

Special Olympics Winter/Spring Season Young Athletes and Developmental Sports Programs
Merrimack College
Sakowich Campus Center
315 Turnpike St., N. Andover, MA 01845
For children ages 2 – 12
January 25
February 8
February 15
February 22
March 21
April 18
To register or for more information click here or contact Eric Archambault at

“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.

Sensory Friendly Afternoons
1:30 PM – 4:30 PM
February 4, 2020
March 3, 2020
April 7, 2020
May 5, 2020
June 2, 2020
October 6, 2020
November 3, 2020
December 1, 2020

Sensory Friendly Evenings
5 PM – 8 PM
March 21, 2020
May 2, 2020
July 11, 2020
August 15, 2020
November 21, 2020

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:

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

Saturday, March 21, 2020
6 PM – 8 PM

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

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.

March 14
April 4
Peter Rabbit 2
April 11
Trolls World Tour
April 25
Black Widow
May 9
May 23
Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run
May 30

Sensory Friendly Sundays at the USS Constitution Museum
9 AM – 10 AM
USS Constitution Museum
Building 22
Charlestown Navy Yard
Charlestown, MA 02129
617-426-1812 X 101
On the second Sunday of the month the museum offers a sensory friendly morning in the museum. This event happens before the museum opens to the public. The number of participants is limited to reduce crowding. Special considerations and amenities are provided such as a quiet room and the turning down of lights and sounds.
Registration is required. Click here to register or for more information.

March 8, 2020

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 Kids (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.

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.

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.

Museum of Fine Arts
Sensory Friendly Tours
Occurs on the first Monday and Third Saturday of the Month
10:15 11 AM
For children ages 2 – 4 years
This activity is free with museum admission.
Click here for more information.

Monday, April 6, 2020
Theme: Lots of Lines
Saturday, April 18, 2020
Theme: Lots of Lines
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Theme: Flower Garden
Monday, June 1, 2020
Theme: Let’s Take a Trip
Saturday, June 20, 2020
Theme: Let’s Take a Trip

New England Aquarium Sensory Inclusive Access
1 Central Wharf
Boston, MA

Sensory Inclusive Mornings

Sensory Friendly Awareness Day at Edaville Family Theme Park
April 25, 2020
10 AM – 5 PM
5 Pine St., Carver, MA 02330
Sensory Friendly Awareness Day included in admission! Join us for our annual Sensory Friendly Awareness Day, everyone is welcome! Guests can participate in sensory activities, meet our sensory friendly partners, and learn all about our Sensory Friendly features in the park! Please note the park and train music will be turned down during this event. Check back to learn more about Sensory Friendly partners! One ticket per person grants all access to Edaville including Thomas Land and Dino Land! Parking is free too!
For more information click here.

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: