Aspire: News and Upcoming Events

Registration for Fall 2018 Programs will open on July 1, 2018.

Please note: All applications will be processed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Check out our Events page for details on our special events.

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Keep up with Aspire news past and present with our MGH Aspire Wire Archives.

Donate to Aspire here.


Click to view our Summer 2018 Dates & Tuition for all Programs:

Learn more about Aspire's programs and services:

Child Programs 


Teen Programs




Adult Programs


Internship Program


Aspire adults autism

Consultation Services


Professional Development





Contact us

MGH Aspire
1 Maguire Rd 
Lexington, Massachusetts 02421
Ph. 781.860.1900
Fax: 781.860.1920
Email: mghaspire@partners.org

Serving individuals with high cognitive autism spectrum disorder or a related profile in the Boston metropolitan area for over 25 years. We are an MGH autism program.

Meet the Team

Meet the MGH Aspire Leadership Team

D. Scott McLeod, PhD
Executive Director of MGH Aspire
Clinical Instructor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School

Donald Scott McLeod, PhD

Dr. Scott McLeod has been on staff at Massachusetts General Hospital since 1990. He became Aspire’s Executive Director in January 2003 after acting as Associate Director for 10 years. Dr. McLeod received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Boston University. He is a Clinical Instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School. 
His clinical interests include the development of effective interventions for persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Dr. McLeod consults in a large number of public and private schools about supporting social and academic success with students with ASD. Dr. McLeod strongly believes that real change for persons on the spectrum occurs in the life space. The most effective interventions to support academic, social and vocational success need to be at schools, camps, and job sites. He is a former long time member of the Board of Directors of the Asperger's Association of New England (AANE).  He is also the co-author of a new book on ASD: Take Charge of Treatment for Your Child with Asperger's (ASD): Create a Personalized Guide to Success for Home, School, and the Community.  See http://tinyurl.com/takechargeASD.
Click here to email Scott McLeod, PhD

Aspire Internship Team

Leslie O'Brien, LICSW
Internship Program Manager


Leslie O'Brien is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker with over 10 years of experience working with children, teens, adults, and families in educational, residential, and outpatient settings. As the Internship Program Manager at Aspire, Leslie aims to empower and help interns increase their knowledge, self-confidence, and work experience for use in the their employment as well as their everyday lives.  While always having a clinical interest in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Ms. O’Brien began working more closely with individuals with ASD through her work with Aspire in the Explorations program. When the right tools, motivation and practice are provided, she believes individuals with ASD can reach their potentials and goals.

Leslie earned both her Bachelors of Science in Human Development and Masters of Social Work from Binghamton University in Binghamton, NY.
Click here to email Leslie O'Brien, LICSW

Lesley Flaherty, MSW, LCSW
Senior Career Counselor

Lesley Flaherty is a Licensed Certified Social Worker with a master’s degree in social work with a certificate in family therapy from Boston University School of Social Work. Lesley has experience working with children, teens, and adults with social-emotional based issues and complex medical conditions in a variety of settings, including schools and hospitals. In addition to her primary role as a job coach, Lesley currently coordinates the Saturday Explorations group in Lexington and serves as a group leader for several other groups at Aspire. Lesley first began working for Aspire in 2014 as a job coach in the Transitions Program and has since filled many other roles in teen and adult programming. Throughout her time at Aspire, Lesley has developed a passion for working with teens and adults on the autism spectrum, and believes with the right tools and supports in place, we can empower those with ASD to gain a greater sense of self-confidence to be able to reach their personal and professional goals.

Lesley received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Studies from the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH. Lesley worked in the Psychiatry Academy at Massachusetts General Hospital assisting with the accreditation, logistics, and execution of live and online continuing medical education programs for providers. She also coordinated educational programs for patients and families as part of the departmental mission to serve the community.
Click here to email Lesley Flaherty, MSW, LCSW

Laura Sears, MS, NCC
Career Counselor

Laura Sears is a trained mental health counselor with a background in developmental disabilities and serious mental illness. Laura started out in the field by helping to create a peer mentoring program for young adults with high functioning autism at the New York University Child Study Center. She then completed her master’s degree with a specialization in providing counseling services to individuals with developmental disabilities. She has also worked as a crisis clinician and mental health counselor for adults with serious mental illness. Laura is passionate about helping teens and young adults make positive changes in their lives. She is excited to be a part of the Aspire team where she can help participants reach their goals.

Laura received her bachelor’s degree in Romance Languages from New York University. She received her master’s degree from the University of Vermont in Counseling.
Click here to email Laura Sears, MS, NCC

Aspire Teen & Adult Programs

Brett Mulder, PsyD
Director, Teen and Adult Services


Dr. Brett Mulder, Program Manager of Teen and Young Adult Services at Aspire and Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School, is a clinical psychologist with experience coordinating programs and working with teens and young adults on the autism spectrum. Also, Dr. Mulder holds appointments as Assistant Psychologist in Department of Psychiatry and as Assistant in Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Mulder‘s research interests relate to the development of outcome measures for clinical interventions of the Aspire programs. Also, he is interested in research that deepens understanding and enhances treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

Dr. Mulder received his undergraduate degree in psychology and philosophy from Hope College, his Master of Arts degree in philosophy from Tufts University and his doctorate in clinical psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. He completed a two year advanced fellowship in psychotherapy and psychological assessment at the Danielsen Institute of Boston University. Also, his training positions included: Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital/YouthCare, Boston University, Tufts Medical Center and McLean Hospital.
Click here to email Brett Mulder, PsyD

Andrew Harris, MEd
Assistant Program Manager, Teen and Adult Services

Andrew Harris is an educator with over 5 years of experience designing curriculum for and working with children and teens with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. He has worked at Aspire since 2014, serving first as a Group Leader, and then as the Being Social and Mind Body Specialist for both the Explorations and Transitions Programs.  Andrew is also the creator of the Guild Chronicles Program – an innovative small group social-emotional intervention that provides authentic opportunities for participants to develop skills and understanding. He continues to run Guild Chronicles groups here at Aspire, one of our most popular groups, as well as developing curriculum for and running teen and young adult groups.

Andrew received his undergraduate degree in Art Education, from Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and his Master’s of Education degree from Lesley University – with a certificate in Autism studies.  He is a passionate educator, dedicated to fostering critical skills in the social-emotional realm, with creative methods that build self-confidence, esteem, and a sense of belonging in the process.
Click here to email Andrew Harris, MEd

Jessica Pappagianopoulos, MA
Assistant Program Manager for Teen & Adult Services

Jessica Pappagianopoulos developed a passion for working with individuals on the autism spectrum through her time as a Group Leader for the Explorations Program at Aspire. While at the Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital, she continued to pursue her clinical interest in ASD by contributing to an intervention study aiming to improve executive functioning skills in children with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. As the Assistant Program Manager of Teen and Young Adult Services, Jessica aims to support and empower individuals with ASD to build their self-confidence, cultivate social connections to help reach their full potential in all areas of their lives.

Jessica received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Stonehill College and her Master of Arts degree in Child Study and Human Development, with a concentration in Clinical Developmental Health and Psychology, from Tufts University. She worked as a research assistant at the Child Health Equity Lab at Tufts University, where she completed her thesis on risk perception and smoking behavior among adolescents diagnosed with asthma.
Click here to email Jessica Pappagianopoulos, MA

Aspire Child Programs

Elise Wulff, MEd
Program Manager for Child Services

Elise Wulff has more than a decade of experience working with the neurodiverse population, their families, and professionals in both the public and private sectors. With MGH Aspire since 2008, Elise oversees Aspire programming for individuals ages 5-16 and related services, designing and writing engaging curricula with activities that help to teach and build skills through preferred interests and play. Elise also provides personalized parent coaching, school-based consultation, and professional development for providers.

Each summer, Elise oversees the Aspire Adventure Camp program which includes developmentally designed programming specified for early childhood and early adolescence as well as outdoor education-based therapeutic programming for individuals on the autism spectrum ages 7-15. This program employs 75 staff from a variety of clinical backgrounds to create a multi-disciplinary team.

In collaboration with Aspire, Elise co-wrote and taught a multi-year tiered self-awareness curriculum based on Aspire’s model ‘The Science of Me.’ Prior to joining Aspire, Elise worked as the Inclusion Facilitator for a special education program for students with Asperger’s, NVLD, ADHD, and similar profiles. Elise received her undergraduate degree in psychology and theater arts from Emory University and her master’s degree in special education from Lesley University.
Click here to email Elise Wulff, MEd

Taylor Levesque, MA
Assistant Program Manager, Child Services

Taylor Levesque comes to Aspire with a variety of experience working with children and teens with an ASD or similar diagnosis. Her passion lies in direct service through small group and in-the-moment coaching for children of all ages. Taylor began her Aspire career at the Adventure Camp for children and continued on to lead Explorations groups for Aspire’s teen program. Prior to working at Aspire, Taylor developed and implemented a social skills curriculum for transition-age youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities and participated in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Fellowship program at Boston Children’s Hospital. Taylor is thrilled to be a part of the Aspire team, where she can to continue to establish meaningful relationships with children and their families to facilitate their positive development.

Taylor received her undergraduate degrees in Child Development and Psychology and her Master of Arts degree in Child Study and Human Development at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University.
Click here to email Taylor Levesque, MA


2017 - 2018 Postdoctorate Fellows in Clinical Psychology

Yvonne M. Asher, PhD
Clinical Fellow

Yvonne Asher received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Suffolk University and interned at the Florida State University Multidisciplinary Evaluation and Consulting Center. Yvonne's work within education includes clinical experience at the Judge Baker Children’s Center at Harvard Medical School and Newton Public Schools in Massachusetts. Yvonne received an Editor's Choice Award from the Journal of Cognition and Development in 2008 and a Suffolk University Doctoral Student Publication Award in 2015. In addition to her work with the Lurie Center, Yvonne will be using her professional expertise at Aspire to assist with various aspects of year-round Aspire groups and the Aspire summer camp.


Rachel L. Goldin, PhD
Clinical Fellow

Rachel Goldin completed her masters and PhD in Clinical Psychology at Louisiana State University and interned at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Her diverse clinical experience includes the Center for Autism & Related Disorders in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and work as a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHD Unit of Massachusetts General Hospital. During her work as a Research Coordinator at MGH, she received a Partners Healthcare in Excellence Award for Teamwork. In addition to her work with the Lurie Center, Rachel will also be using her professional expertise at Aspire to assist with various aspects of year-round Aspire groups and the Aspire summer camp.

Application & Tuition

What can I expect during the Aspire application process?

At Aspire we review our applications carefully and meet with our applicants and families, as appropriate, in order to assess the best possible fit for participants in all of our groups. This is one of the aspects of our program that sets us apart from others. This includes being placed with well-matched peers which is helpful for creating an environment that is more conducive to learning and developing socially. We look forward to receiving your application and are happy to answer any questions.

Application Steps

Step 1

Download appropriate application forms (see below)

Step 2

Complete and sign the form(s).

Step 3

Attach the most recent neuropsychological report, IEP, or other evaluations if Aspire does not already have them on file.

Step 4

Include the $75.00 application fee. (New applicants)


Admissions Process

After the completed application materials are received, candidates will be scheduled for an intake interview. If the candidate is not a good fit, we will contact the family as soon as possible. At the interview, parents will meet with our staff to discuss in more detail the goals for their children. The children gather together with other applicants and engage in fun activities led by Aspire staff. We take great pride in our careful placement of participants into groups with peers that are well-matched for each other. This helps to pave the way for success. Criteria include: age, interests, communication style, and level of self-awareness. Aspire intake sessions only take place in our Lexington office.

Application Forms

2017 - 2018 Application Forms

  • Summer 2018 Program Start Date: July 5, 2018
    • Summer 2018 deadline was June 4, 2018.
    • Fall 2018 registration will open on July 1, 2018.

Please note: Some Aspire programs may reach full capacity before the application deadline.We encourage all interested families to apply at their earliest convenience. If this is your first time applying to an Aspire program, please download, fill out, and submit one of the following:

If you have participated in an Aspire program before, please fill out the following:

Application for RETURNING participants (doc)


NEW applicants under age 18 (MS Word doc)

NEW applicants age 18 plus (MS Word doc)

If you have participated in an Aspire program before, please fill out the following:
Application for RETURNING participants (doc)

Click here for the Internship Program application forms

Financial aid application: To apply for financial aid please download the financial aid application and submit per the included instructions.



Tuition Rate Sheet: Academic School-Year Programs

Tuition Rate Sheet:Summer 2018

Financial Aid

Financial aid applications may be submitted at the same time as the Aspire program application. Financial aid is available to families that qualify, is processed in the order in which it was received and is awarded based on our availability of resources.

If the Financial Aid applicant is over 18 and lives with a parent/legal guardian, we require that both the participant and the parents/legal guardians provide application materials. If you do not provide this information, the financial aid application will be considered incomplete.

Not sure if you will qualify? Contact us with questions.mghaspire@partners.org  

Payment Policies

Full payment is due prior to program start date.

Aspire does not offer refunds. Application fees, program deposits, and program tuition are non-refundable.


Please be aware that Aspire offers multidisciplinary interventions and methods that do not fit standard medical procedure codes; therefore, our services are not reimbursable by medical insurers.

Participation Policies

Attendance: The success of the group and of each participant is dependent upon all members attending as many sessions as possible. We expect that participants will make a commitment to the group. In case of an unavoidable absence, please let your group leader know with as much notice as possible. No refunds are given due to absences unless related to extensive medical conditions.

Inclement Weather: In the event of inclement weather, participants/families will be notified via email by noon whether the group/session will be held on that day. Participants/families may also call the Aspire office at 781-860-1900 after 12pm.

Refunds: Aspire does not offer refunds. Application fees and program deposits are non-refundable.


Publications & Media


Aspire Wire

Aspire Wire is our monthly newsletter filled with all the latest news. Click here to see past issues

Sign-up to stay informed regarding our programs, schedules, events, and more!


Aspire 2018 Spring Gala: "Light Up"

It was a privilege to be able to share the perspectives of some of our participants here at Aspire. Their answers to "Five Questions about Autism" will enlighten you.

Read more in these news articles published about the 2018 event:

Aspire 2017 Spring Gala: "Dear Aspire"

"You taught me to be myself" and "You've given me a voice" are just a few of the words from former MGH Aspire participants that were shared at our 2017 Gala.

Read more in these news articles published about the 2017 event:

Read about our 2016 event:

16th Annual Aspire Spring Gala: Building One Relationship at a Time

Click on the links below to watch the Aspire videos which were shown at the 2016 Gala.

Aspire Internship Program

Watch Internship program manager, Leslie O'Brien on "4 Your Community" on WBZ talking about the Aspire Internship Program with intern Jake Peters.


 The application deadline for Aspire Summer 2018 Programs is June 4, 2018:


Check out our Child Program Special Events for additional info and call us at 781-860-1900 to register.

Past Events

Parent Group:

Social Competency: Teaching Ways of Thinking and Being Social

In this day and age of high academic pressures, why are social skills still so important? This group will provide an overview of social pragmatics instruction at Aspire and will explore the framework that Aspire utilizes to help kids and teens form more meaningful social connections. The presentation is geared toward parents of children and teens with high cognitive ASD and related profiles.



Summer Job Opportunities at MGH Aspire


Thank you for your interest in Aspire!

Summer is one of our busiest times of the year and we welcome applications each year from interested candidates. For 2018, our spring season is wrapping up and we are also busy gearing up for summer! For more information about being a summer employee at Aspire and to get an idea of what the application process is like, take a look at our videos.

Below are examples of the types of opportunities available with our annual summer programs. Applications are still being accepted for the positions marked with *  

Child Services

Location: Westwood, MA

Administrative Assistant

Camp Assistant Group Leader *

Camp Assistant Site Manager

Camp Group Leader *

Curriculum Specialist*

Junior Assistant Group Leader

Junior Group Leader

Sensory Specialist*

Site Manager

Social Group Specialist


Teen Services

*Locations: Lexington, Newton

Explorations Group Leader *

Explorations Assistant Group Leader

Explorations Assistant Program Manager

Summer Administrative Manager

Transitions Assistant Program Manager

Transitions Job Coach *

Transitions Program Manager

Trailblazers Group Leader

Trailblazers Assistant Group Leader


Internship Program

Seasonal Career Counselor


*Please note: The job openings listed above incorrectly show the work location as 101 Merrimac Street, Boston, MA. MGH Aspire has summer program locations in Charlestown, Newton, Lexington, Boston and Westwood, MA. We have noted above the locations for each of our programs. If you have any questions, please contact us at mghaspire@partners.org.

Permanent Job Openings


Child Services

No positions available at this time.

Teen and Adult Services

No positions available at this time


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