Northeast Arc, a Danvers-based nonprofit that provides varied services for people with developmental disabilities and autism, began using the therapy in a limited way for children with autism at its child-care center last year, with the intent of fully converting to the new program this fall. But the COVID-19 pandemic moved up that timetable.
“COVID-19 has accelerated our plans as we have seen parents of children on the spectrum struggle with teaching their children at home and have asked us to help find a solution,” Jo Ann Simons, Northeast Arc’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
Like the existing center, closed since March 17 due to the pandemic, the new Learning Center at Northeast Arc will serve children up to 5 years old, with an after-school session for those 5 to 7. But it will be limited to children with autism, their siblings, and the children of Northeast Arc staff, according to Jill McEntee, the center’s clinical program director.
McEntee said Northeast Arc is switching to the autism-focused format because the existing program “really didn’t meet the mission of ARC, which is to serve individuals with autism and developmental disabilities,” adding that the change will allow the center to serve more children on the spectrum and provide them the specialized care they need.