Bridge Autism Program


The Andover Way: A Culture of Learning, Teaching and Leading

  • WE WON’T STOP until all students 
  •  FEEL safe, connected, confident, valued and honored for their uniqueness
  • THINK globally, deeply, creatively, and take ownership of their learning
  • BELIEVE they can achieve their goals and their growth is unlimited
  • KNOW they are the center of a collaborative team of caring adults
  • SHOW PRIDE to be part of the APS community.


The BRIDGE program utilizes the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in the development of individualized programming for students. The program utilizes a variety of teaching formats including 1:1, 1:2 and small group instruction. Our evidence-based instructional strategies include, but are not limited to, discrete trial training (DTT), natural environment training (NET), antecedent based interventions, functional communication, modeling, positive behavior support, errorless learning, data driven behavior plans, social skills training and task analysis of complex skills.


Academics (PK-5)                              Behavior Modification             Community Based Instruction 

Functional Academics (6-12)              Daily Living Skills                    Vocational Training

Social Skills                                         Functional Leisure                  Travel Training

Student Skills                                       Adaptives                                Independent Living skills

Discrete Trial Training                         Peer Mentoring                       Self-Care skills


As they are able, students are highly encouraged to participate in school-sponsored extracurricular activities.  These may include participation in clubs, teams, attending dances and other school activities.   If necessary, assistance/chaperoning is provided for students wishing to participate in these activities.  Classroom teachers and assistance work to prepare students for any upcoming extracurricular activity by reviewing appropriate behaviors beforehand, discussing what to expect at the activity, etc..  


  • Primary Diagnosis of Autism
  • Requires support in the following areas:   
    • Academics
    •  Adaptives
    •  Behavior
    • Communication
      • Social Skills 
      • Student Skills
    • Community Based Instruction (grade 6 and up)
  • Student requires an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) based classroom
  • Student requires discrete trial training for all novel skill acquisitions (academic, social, student, language, behavior and independent living skills)
  • Student requires 1:1 staffing
  • Weekly consultation with a BCBA


  • Students are not exhibiting recurring maladaptive behaviors. However, students may display mild noncompliance and other interfering behaviors   
  • Students are supported by simple reinforcement system and infrequent access to  reinforcement (1-2 times per day)
  • Students require BCBA 2 times per month or less
  • Students require 1:2-1:3 staffing.
  • Students are able to learn social and student skills in small group, as a related services, as well as apply them to the larger group setting with adult support


Referrals for the BRIDGE program are generated by early childhood coordinator, building based evaluation team facilitators (ETF), district program heads (elementary, middle, high school) schools and/or building based administration.

Following a referral, the admission team will:

  • Discuss student’s strengths and areas of need with current IEP Team
  • Review current IEP and updated evaluations
  • Conduct an observation of the referred student
  • Review and discuss observation with current IEP Team as well as next steps


The BRIDGE program comprises a multi-disciplinary team, which includes:

  • ABA trained special education teachers
  • ABA trained instructional assistants 
  • Board certified behavior analyst (BCBA)
  • Speech therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Adaptive physical education teachers

All members of the BRIDGE team have extensive experience working with students on the autism spectrum. 

Contracted services include: 

  • Alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) specialist
  • Assistive technology (AT) specialist
  • Orientation and mobility specialists (O&M)
  • Teacher for visually impaired (TVI) specialist
  • Hearing specialist
  • Feeding specialist


The preschool and elementary school BRIDGE students participate in annual assessments (ABLLS/AFLS/VBMAPP), which identifies the student’s strengths and areas of need, as well as ongoing progress monitoring 

All students participate in formal evaluations every three years as part of their tri-annual assessments. In addition, students participate in ongoing preference assessments, ABC data collection and functional analyses/ functional behavior assessments to ensure behavior plans are up to date and effective.

Beginning in grade 3, students are evaluated on MA state standards via the MCAS Alternative Portfolio System. High school BRIDGE students participate in individualized learning plans that are aligned with grade level entry points. Student progress is tracked through IXL Academic Programming.


Beginning in middle school, students participate in weekly community based instruction (CBI). CBI is an effective instructional method for teaching that takes placed in the real-life setting. During CBI, students are provided the opportunity to acquire as well as practice meaningful independent living skills in a variety of settings. The goal is to develop the needed skills to function as independently as possible. During CBI, students are working on functional academics, social skills, life skills, time-management, community safety, self-determination, self-management and social competence. At the high school level, students also participate in pre-vocational and, when appropriate, vocational experiences in order to increase independence and build workplace skills. 


YMCA                                                Book Store                                        Safety Center

Andover Library                                Pharmacy                                          Farm

Bowling                                             Restaurant                                        Mall                             

Grocery Store                                   Department Store                             MSCPA

Art Gallery                                         Movies                                               Dentist

Trampoline Park                               Horse Therapy                                  Bank



Beginning in high school, students immediately begin participation in career exploration and pre-vocational training. Students begin pre-vocational activities at the high school, and gradually increase independence and complexity of tasks as they are able. Students also participate in career exploration by experiencing various pre-vocational tasks over time and ultimately focusing on those which highlight strengths and interests. Students that are able to demonstrate safety and task specific skills will have opportunities to fulfill volunteer positions in the community.


At the high school and until age 22, students in the Bridge program are continually developing their transitional interests and skills. This is done through:

  • Daily instruction in independent living skills and ADL’s, functional academics, community and vocational instruction
  • Evaluations: From 9th grade onward, tri-ennial evaluations heavily focus on adaptive skills, which measure independence with daily living, communication and navigation skills. This information is obtained through various standardized measures as well as teacher and parent surveys, and used to directly inform individualized programming
  • Home/Parent training: Depending on need, students receive home/parent training services which further develop the independent living and behavioral skills necessary outside of the school environment. Emphasis is on generalization of these skills across environments.
  • Transitional Assessments: beginning in junior year, each student participates in a formal transitional assessment, which evaluates adaptive and other readiness skills through standardized measures and parent and teacher surveys. Interests and strengths are identified, as well as areas for further development. Recommendations are made for future educational planning.
  • Outside Agency involvement: Students, if not already DDS-eligible when arriving at the high school, are referred to DDS by their educational teams. Teams work directly with parents to help guide them in this process and facilitate communication with the agency. Once a student is assigned and approaches their junior year, the High School regularly invites DDS case managers to IEP meetings to facilitate with post-secondary planning.
  • Person-Centered Planning: Each student, to the degree that s/he is able, is assisted in developing a person-centered plan for presentation at his/her IEP meeting. The student works with team members to address various transitional issues (future goals, including vocational, living, leisure/recreational and family and social arrangements). The final product is a handout and electronic visual presentation (e.g., PowerPoint, Prezi, etc.) that the student presents and discusses at the meeting. The person-centered plan serves as a focal point for future planning and is revisited on a regular basis.
  • Vocational Training which helps students learn to generalize skills across environments and develop independence skills.
  • Vocational Training is highly individualized, depending on student readiness. Students begin in 9th grade with classroom-based pre-vocational skills (sorting, arranging, shredding, etc.), and gradually work up to basic tasks including building-based recycling, mail sorting, and basic filing. If/when appropriate, students may participate in our off-campus job exposure/training program which rotates exposure to appropriate job tasks within a corporate environment. Tasks involve working in stock rooms, mail rooms, clean stations, security vestibules, and/or other posts that help gain exposure to appropriate workplace behaviors and routines. Some students are able to participate at other job sites, depending on interests and strengths (e.g., rabbit shelter, assisted living facility, etc.). The program also works directly with DDS to connect families to possible relevant programming in this area.
  • Community: from 9th grade to age 22, students are regularly practicing community-based skills to apply academic, social, self-management, daily living and travel training skills across various environments.
  • Regular Data Collection: Student progress is collected on a regular basis in order to monitor growth and assist in program planning. Data is taken on behavior, as well as academic progress. The results are evaluated weekly and adapted as needed.