Northshore Magazine

Northshore September 2015

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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Page 62 of 272

60 | SEPTEMBER 2015 effort from the start, with benefactors from all over the North Shore. The program began thanks to the generosity of George Harrington, former owner of the Lyceum Restaurant in Salem. Har- rington learned about the benefits of iPads for nonverbal children and was inspired to collaborate with staff at the center to bring a new program to life. Many families also receive support from some or all of the Northeast Arc programs. Both the geographical range of the Arc—cov- ering 150 cities and towns in the Northeast—and the vast range of activities and programs for people of all ages make it a flexible and beneficial option for families strug- gling with an autism diagnosis. The Arc's Building Blocks pro- gram, for instance, offers intensive one-on-one early intervention for children with autism under the age of three, to help them develop com- munication skills at home. Louann Larson, Northeast Arc's director of Family Support Services, explains, "Building Blocks uses an approach called the Early Start Denver help with the communica- tion and social needs of children. We also have Behavioral Health Services for older the home or at the child's day care." In addition, there are several support groups for parents. "We listen to families; if we hear a few families express- ing a need—for a support group, or more social activities—we try to meet that, because we know it's the tip of the iceberg. We know that if some people are saying it, there are many more people who need it," says Gilroy. Northeast Arc's well-received Spotlight Social Skills Program came about in just that way. Many parents expressed a need for groups where their children could learn and practice social skills. This program uses a drama-based approach, which allows children "to practice perspective talking and im- provisation," explains Larson. A re- cent documentary, Autism Through My Lens, produced in conjunction with Emerson College, highlights nine teens and young adults who have benefitted from the Spotlight Program. The film gives viewers a rare opportunity to see how people on the spectrum navigate life's chal- lenges and interactions with peers, from their own point of view. Northeast Arc 64 Holten St. Danvers 978-762-4878 CONTACT Louann Larson, Northeast Arc's director of Family Support Services photograph by Sarah Phillips LIVE

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