Aspire, a MassGeneral Hospital Program, specializes in helping children, teens and adults on the autism spectrum achieve success. Our programming is uniquely designed to help participants with Asperger profiles develop positive self-awareness, stress management and social competency skills so they can succeed at home, school, work and in community settings.
The autistic individuals we serve have the potential to thrive and make incredible contributions to their communities. They demonstrate personal strengths like honesty, creativity, laser-focus, exceptional memory, and passion about their special interests.
Participants in our program may have challenges with anxiety, stress management, social communication, impulse control, attention, executive functioning, or demonstrate sensory differences. Typical diagnoses include Asperger's syndrome, high functioning autism, ADHD, PDD-NOS and non-verbal learning disabilities; however, not all Aspire participants have a formal diagnosis.
Aspire offers year-round programming for individuals aged 5 years to adult, including social groups, summer camp, school vacation camp and special events. For adults looking for work-related support, the Aspire Works program helps participants navigate the work environment, gain important on-the-job skills and achieve professional goals. These services include our flagship internship program, one-on-one career counseling and skill-building workshops.
As an organization dedicated to serving individuals with autism, Aspire is steadfast in promoting neurodiversity and inclusion across settings. We provide an array of consultation and support services designed to educate and broaden the understanding of the unique strengths and needs of this population. Through parent and caregiver programs, school-based consultation, professional development services, and corporate neurodiversity trainings and workshops, we support our participants and the ASD community, where they live, learn and work.
Our Unique Expertise
For over thirty years, Aspire has championed individuals on the spectrum with Asperger profiles. We are dedicated to understanding and serving this population of exceptional individuals. Our structured therapeutic programming is guided by our comprehensive knowledge of who our participants are and our mission to best support them.
Aspire participants have needs and challenges that are often overlooked in school classrooms, out in the community, and in the workplace. While we recognize these areas of growth, we also appreciate and value our participants’ strengths, special interests and amazing abilities. Our staff understand that to best support our participants, we must first get to know them as individuals.
Our teaching methodology incorporates a variety of disciplines, including speech and language pathology, occupational therapy, special education, neuroscience and psychology. A multidisciplinary approach empowers us to see each participant as a “whole person” and provide proactive support within a strengths-based framework.
Aspire’s core curriculum focuses on teaching skills in the areas of self-awareness, stress management and social competency. This includes helping participants to increase awareness of their own strengths, challenges and preferences; to manage their own stress and frustration in a regulated and pro-social way; and to understand the nuances of social communication and relationships across settings.
The “Aspire Fit”
Within the community of ASD, there is a broad range of abilities, interests and personalities. The children, teens and adults who take part in Aspire programs reflect this same range. While all our participants have the potential to grow and change, the outcome of this potential looks different in everyone we serve.
An Aspire participant's growth may be easily recognizable, such as when a child who was frequently isolated on the playground learns to maintain a relationship with a new best friend, or a chronically underemployed adult succeeds at holding down a job for the first time. For some, growth may be more subtle: a once socially awkward teenager becomes comfortable enough to go on their first date. At Aspire, success is measured by individual goals and personal achievements. We aim to create a space where everyone feels understood, appreciated, valued, and safe to just “be themselves.”
Aspire’s unique matching process groups participants together based on a myriad of factors. These may include learning and cognitive profile, shared passions, level of therapeutic support needed, personality, and personal goals. By placing participants in a well-matched peer cohort or internship placement, our experienced staff can help participants to feel a sense of belonging, boost their self-esteem and social confidence, and cultivate a safe space where learning, growing, and skill-development can occur. A well-matched cohort or placement has the power to create participant interest and motivation from the very start.
Learning Through Experience
Aspire participants succeed through structured learning that occurs not only by listening, thinking, or reading, but by doing. Due to their strong cognitive ability, our participants can often recite the social norms and skills taught to them. However, using these skills naturally and independently in everyday situations can be a challenge.
Aspire provides “real-life” opportunities for learning and skill-building around special interests that are inherently motivating to our participants. Our team of dedicated staff design groups, special events and activities based on these interests. We encourage our participants to take social risks, be problem-solvers and make mistakes. They learn from these shared experiences through previewing, in-the-moment social coaching, reflection and supported feedback.
Throughout our programming, our staff are consistently responsive to the individual needs and goals of each participant. We support skill-building through a careful balance of pushing participants to step out of their comfort zones, while providing a therapeutic level of support.
Supporting our Participants and the ASD Community
Parent and Caregiver Programs
Aspire offers programming specifically designed to support parents and caregivers of individuals on the spectrum. Our offerings include private parent coaching sessions, parent support groups, and facilitated workshops and presentations. Presentation topics include special education, autism spectrum disorder, neurodiversity, executive functioning and stress management.
School-Based Consultation and Professional Development Services
Aspire has more than 30 years’ experience providing consultation and professional development services in the areas of social competency, neurodiversity, accessibility & inclusion and individual growth, particularly as they relate to individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Our services include options for individuals, classrooms and districts, program design, transition planning curriculum, and skill-building in the areas of self-awareness, stress-management and social competency. Our clients include professionals in educational settings, clinicians, parents and caregivers.
Corporate Trainings and Workshops
Aspire provides corporate trainings and workshops designed to teach companies how they can work more effectively and successfully with neurodiverse employees. Our expertise includes development and implementation of neurodiverse internship programs, building an inclusive and neurodiverse workplace culture, and neurodiverse recruitment and hiring practices. Our corporate audiences range from independently owned businesses and non-profits to Fortune 500 companies.
To download our brand brochure and flyers, click on the links below.