Beyond the School Day

After-School Programs

  • Aspire After School Program
    • Charles River Center's Aspire after-school program is offered at the Paul D. Merritt Building in Needham and is open to all students with developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders, from area elementary, middle and high schools, regardless of their place of residence. Children range in age from 7-22. Aspire follows the Needham Public Schools calendar. Sports, music therapy, arts and crafts, cooking, computer use and homework assistance are all offered in Aspire. The primary goal of Aspire is to encourage children and young adults to recognize and strengthen their abilities while having fun with friends in a recreational environment.

Recreation & Activities

  • SPED Child & Teen — Recreation
    • Listing of recreation opportunities for children with special needs, including museums, theater, movies, sports and more.
  • Drumlin Farm Family Farm Days
    • Family Farm Days are free, accessible explorations throughout the spring and summer for those with special needs. They offer a fun and engaging way to build community within a setting that welcomes and encourages people of all abilities to participate in a variety of farm and nature activities. Pre-registration is required. Visit the website for dates and more information.
  • Adaptive Outdoor Activities in Mass State Parks
    • The State of Massachusetts DCR Universal Access program offers adaptive kayaking, canoeing, sailing, hiking and more in parks across the state.
  • Sky Zone Sensory Sundays
    • The Sensory Sunday program is specifically designed for special needs jumpers! Enjoy the fun of Sky Zone Boston without the distractions. They welcome children or adults with special needs along with a chaperone (fees apply). Second Sunday of every month from 8am - 10am.
  • AMC Sensory-Friendly Movie Showings
    • AMC turns the lights up, and turns the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! Showings are the second and fourth Tuesday and Saturday. Family-friendly movies will continue to show Saturdays, starting at 10am local time. They've added Tuesday showings at 7pm local time that may appeal to others on the autism spectrum.

Classes: General

  • Needham Park & Recreation
    • The Park and Recreation Commission and Department provides year-round recreation opportunities, including summer camp and adaptive swimming lessons. They will work with parents to accommodate children with special needs.
  • Needham Community Education
    • NCE offers after-school programs open to all students, and makes every effort to accommodate students with special needs.
  • PathFinders Youth Program
    • The PathFinders Program is the division of the Dedham Parks & Recreation Department dedicated to providing recreational opportunities for the special needs citizens of Dedham and our surrounding communities. Activities include soccer, canoeing, arts & crafts, and more.
  • The Bridge Center Programs
    • The Bridge Center offers a wide range of programs for all ages: karate, soccer, fishing, dance, yoga, horseback riding, and more. A full list of year-round programs is available on their website.

Classes: Theatre, Dance, Arts

  • Boston Ballet Adaptive Dance
    • Adaptive Dance is designed to foster a love of dance and creative expression for individuals with special needs. Now in its twelfth year, it offers classes for individuals with disabilities ages 2-adult at Boston Ballet's Newton, Boston, and North Shore studios, including specialized classes for individuals with Down syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders as well as inclusive classes for students of all abilities
  • Social Dynamix
    • This interactive learning program combines expressive therapy, psychodrama, social pragmatics, and theatre to help individuals overcome anxiety in social settings and acquire a larger repertoire of pragmatic skills.

Classes: Sports

  • Charles River YMCA
    • Charles River YMCA offers Adaptive Swim Classes, Adaptive Swim Team, and Adaptive Physical Fitness programs. Please contact the Adaptive Swim Coordinator, Janine Schultze for more information: or 781-444-6400.
  • Miracle League Baseball
    • The Miracle League of Massachusetts is an all volunteer, non-profit organization that gives children with disabilities a chance to play baseball as part of a team in an organized league at no cost to their family.
  • New England Sports Academy (NESA): Enrichment Program
    • NESA's Enrichment Program is designed to provide children living with special needs with the same opportunities as typical children to participate in fun fitness, sports and vocational classes.
  • NESA: Social Fit
    • The Social Fit PreSchool, After School and Teen programs at NESA are designed to support and strengthen the social learner by participation in non-competitive group activities. The Social Fit program supports the growth and inclusion of PreSchool aged children through grade 8 with social learning deficits. Evening Programs are available for tweens/teens up to and including the High School level.
  • Mariposa Yoga
    • Specializing in relaxation yoga therapy for children with autism, ADHD, and special needs. Taught by Lyn Jekowsky, certified Children's Yoga Instructor, certified Relaxation Yoga Therapist, and NPS school nurse.
  • Access Sport America
  • Ability Plus Adaptive Sports
  • ACEing Autisim
    • Tennis instruction for autistic children
    • Recreational Resource Guide (pdf)
    • A list compiled by Franciscan Hospital of organizations and programs providing physical activity opportunities for children with special needs, last update in 2009.

Classes: Outdoor / Animals

  • BINA Farm Center (BFC)
    • The BINA Farm Center (BFC) brings together those with and without special needs by offering a variety of inclusive enrichment programs. BFC is committed to providing a comprehensive therapeutic and recreational environment utilizing Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies, Vocational Training Program and Creative and Complementary Therapy Programs for children and adults with physical, developmental and emotional challenges.
  • Horseback Riding
    • PATH International lists certified programs providing equine-assisted activities and therapies.

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