McLean Hospital 115 Mill Street Belmont, MA 02478
Pathways Academy is a private, year-round school developed to meet the psychological, social, and academic needs of children and adolescents ages 6 through 22 with autism spectrum and related disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders, nonverbal learning disability, sensory processing disorder, socialization and peer-relations problems, anxiety disorders, and school phobias. Pathways Academy is fully approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and has a staff-to-student ratio of 1:2.
At Pathways, children with similar cognitive, learning, and developmental profiles are clustered together to facilitate group learning. Additionally, each child is provided with an individualized education program (IEP) that fosters his/her own social and academic growth. Social pragmatics classes are part of the core curriculum for all students. This form of therapy is provided in a group format and integrated into each student’s individual learning program. Pathways Academy also provides other speech/language therapy as well as occupational therapy and sensory integration, as needed.
Pathways Academy provides a safe and comfortable learning environment for students with autism spectrum and related disorders. Pathways Academy focuses on the social pragmatic and academic advancement of each student so that they may successfully face challenges in all aspects of their life.
Pathways Academy was developed to meet the physical, social, and academic needs of children and adolescents who are out of or struggling in school. These students have difficulty understanding social cues and tend to misunderstand and misinterpret social situations. They have difficulty integrating their experiences and interactions and drawing expected inferences. Their reduced ability in these areas often leads to feelings of frustration, limited success, and low self-esteem. They also may have coexisting psychiatric diagnoses, including depression, social and academic anxiety and other behavioral difficulties. Each student's program is customized based on his/her individual academic, social, and cognitive profile.
Students at Pathways Academy are educated based upon the Common Core State Standards and the Curriculum Frameworks as set forth by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Students take core academic classes in English, mathematics, science, and social studies. Each core class is taught by a special education teacher and lessons are tailored to meet individual student learning needs. Students are provided with accommodations, as outlined in their individualized education program, throughout the school day. Although homework, tests and quizzes are not typically given at Pathways Academy, students do participate in the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) and/or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests during the state-specified grades. In addition to the core academic classes, students participate in a range of other classes including Pragmatics, Culinary Arts, Life Skills, Community Service, Art, Physical Activity, Typing, and Health.
All Pathways students participate in a Life Skills class once per week and a Community Service class once per week. Beginning at age 14, students participate in a weekly transition planning meeting, during which students explore individual needs including banking skills, skills needed to acquire and maintain a job, independent living skills, travel skills, and more.
Pathways Academy follows a predictable schedule which is posted daily in each classroom. All classes are 45 minutes in length after which, students have a 15-minute sensory integration break, during which students work on specific objectives that are outlined in their IEP. School runs from 8:20am to 2:30pm four days per week, with students being in school from 8:20am to 12:30pm on Wednesdays. Pathways Academy is a year-round, 216-day program.
Pathways Academy combines a variety of interventions such as occupational therapy, sensory integration, transitions skills, speech and language therapy, pragmatic language and thinking classes, problem-solving strategies throughout the day, crisis intervention, and academic support to help the students integrate their experiences in a useful way as they go through their school day.
The Pathways Academy therapeutic school model also addresses social skills, which serves as one of the core features of the program. The clinical team leads pragmatic classes, focusing on areas of concern related to student’s individual needs and diagnosis. These social and adaptive pragmatic skills include, but are not limited to the following:
Additionally, social pragmatic skills are addressed through incidental teaching opportunities, both within the classroom setting and the school milieu.
Moreover, Pathways Academy provides the opportunity to generalize these learned skills, through social outings. Clinicians provide additional services such as pair (dyad) therapy and classroom/individual pragmatic training services.
Pathways Academy believes that the parents and guardians of our students play an integral role in the success of our students. Our staff work together with students families in order to provide a single message of direction and support. We act to ensure that plans developed at home and with outside providers are supported at Pathways Academy, and that plans put in place at Pathways are supported while the student is not in school.
Pathways Academy’s Family Liaison is available throughout the day via telephone and email, and regular communication between families and staff is highly encouraged. We believe that an open and constant flow of communication promotes the highest level of continuity of care. Due to busy daily schedules, we suggest that phone conversations and conferences are pre-planned when possible.
Parents, guardians and sending school districts are welcomed and encouraged to visit Pathways Academy. Visits and observations can be scheduled by calling our main office. Meetings are held on as needed basis. Team meetings are planned annually for Individual Education Plan review and every three years to review mandatory evaluations.
A Pathways Academy “open house” is held annually. The open house provides an opportunities for parents and guardians to tour Pathways Academy and meet with staff. Pathways also holds two Parent Advisory Group (PAG) meetings each school year. These are informational and may be in lecture or discussion format. Pathways Academy host monthly “Coffee Groups” - these hour and a half sessions provide opportunities for parents and guardians to meet with fellow parents and guardians and our Family Liaison, and often another member of our faculty and staff.
Roya Ostovar, PhD, Director
Dr. Ostovar is an expert in child, adolescent, and adult psychology and specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum and related disorders, including sensory processing disorder. She is also trained in neuropsychological and psychological assessment, developing effective clinical and educational plans, transition planning, and coaching.
Laura D. Mead, MSEd, Educational Administrator
Ms. Mead is a teacher and administrator with 17 years of experience in special education. Her background is in psychology, education, and art. She has taught elementary and middle school special education to students with social-emotional and behavioral challenges in both private and public school settings.
Timothy Kadehjian, Admissions Coordinator
Mr. Kadehjian has been with Pathways Academy for eight years and was a clinical educator before moving to his current position. He works extensively with families and school districts to bring in students that are having difficulties within the public school setting.
Karen Steves, MS, Milieu Manager
As milieu manager, Ms. Steves works to establish a safe and therapeutic environment for staff and students. She is a certified trainer with the Crisis Prevention Institute, the ALICE Training Institute, the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center, and is an American Heart Association CPR and first aid trainer.
The faculty of Pathways Academy consists of educators and clinicians who have extensive training and knowledge of the difficulties affecting children and adolescents with autism spectrum, attention deficit / hyperactive disorder (ADHD), high-functioning autism (HFA), and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and other related disorders. Pathways staff are also trained to help the psychiatric conditions that often accompany neurodevelopmental disorders.
Each wing of the program (the East and West Wing) has a master's level team leader with certification in special needs. Each classroom is lead by a special needs certified teacher. School-wide specialists include: speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, a school psychologist, a neuropsychologist, and a child and adolescent psychiatrist. Medication evaluation and management services are available through McLean’s Child and Adolescent Outpatient Services by request.
Pathways Academy invites parents and students an opportunity to tour our school and to explore the array of educational and support services available in our program. Pathways will admit a child when there is a good match between the child's needs and the school's ability to provide services.
Most students at Pathways Academy present with an autism spectrum disorder such as pervasive developmental, autism spectrum, or nonverbal learning disorder with and without co-occurring psychiatric conditions, as well as a range of cognitive and adaptive abilities. As long as space is available, there are no admission deadlines; however, early application is encouraged. One admissions visit is required for most applicants. Pathways Academy staff may also be available to observe potential students in their current school placement in addition to or in place of an admissions visit. Supporting materials from schools and diagnosticians are essential in helping to make admissions decisions.
For further information, please contact:
Timothy Kadehjian, Admissions Coordinator