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"CTDS has taught me to learn and love, has taught me about health and healing, and has helped me to be who I am today. Without CTDS, I know that I would never be where I am now - the socially and emotionally able, aware, and appropriate person that I have become.”

Emma Bloom, Alumni Student
























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  Values   Founders    

Educational Curriculum_Image1

The Community Therapeutic Day School (CTDS), founded in 1974, enrolls children with severe emotional and neurologic difficulties that interfere with their learning and prevent them from attending regular school programs. These children may have problems with hyperactivity, social isolation, psychosis, affective disorders, mood dysregulation, autistic defenses, atypical development, distracting fantasies, speech and language delays, behavioral disorders, and motor and sensory integration deficits. Many also have difficulty with developing appropriate social relationships. We try to discern if the basis of the disability is emotional, neurologic, environmental or some combination of factors. Uncontrolled feelings may affect the child’s overall functioning. The child may have specific physical problems such as vision, hearing, sensory motor, or language processing. The child’s environment may be chaotic and the child too preoccupied with day-to-day survival to concentrate on learning or relating. Our children have a wonderful array of strengths and talents. At CTDS we support the whole child.


• Through careful and intensive observation we are able to develop an in-depth clinical understanding of each child’s individual experience of the world.

• With an open mind and curiosity we join the child in exploring the complexities of his world.

• The significant connection between child and staff enhances the child’s capacity to engage more fully in his social and emotional development and learning.

• With the safety of a holding environment, children are encouraged to take risks in areas where their disabilities impact their lives.

• In the process of learning from our children about their disabilities we gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and collectively create a knowledge base that serves to strengthen our teaching.

• In conjunction with a multidisciplinary approach, our collaboration with the child’s family is critical to the successful integration of the child’s world.

CTDS began under the auspices of the Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Mass. Mental Health Center. These agencies in 1974 had the foresight under the aegis of the National Institute for Mental Health to allow for the creation of the school. This was an era of social ferment when new ideas and institutions were able to take root. The school established an environment in which the natural unfolding or development of a child could take place by caring for children who in the past might have been lost to society as vital, creative members. The creation of a “holding environment” encompasses the child, and the family including siblings and extended family. The staff helps provide understanding, guidance and support to the families in their struggle to meet the challenges of their child's special developmental needs.


(from left to right):
Alan Shapiro - Program Director
Nancy Fuller - Executive Director
Bruce Hauptman - Psychiatrist

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