Northeast Arc’s Adult Autism Support Center assists adults with Autism ages 18 and older, enabling them to flourish in their everyday lives. The Center is a resource for navigation, community events, educational workshops and trainings, as well as support groups for individuals and families. To mark Autism Acceptance Month, several individuals supported by the Center, as well as their families, shared their experiences working with Northeast Arc.

Drew Sartell

Drew participates in three programs: art classes, Queen’s Gambit, a monthly board game/card game event with pizza at Queen’s Gambit in Methuen, and gym night. Drew shared his favorite parts of each event:

  • Art Class: Having an artist [teaching] gives me the confidence to work on difficult drawings. What I enjoy most about art class is that I use a webcam so that they can see my drawing.
  • Queen’s Gambit: There are a lot of available games to choose from. It makes it easier for everyone to agree on a game that we would to play on. What I enjoy most about Queen’s Gambit is that I get to meet new friends, talk to them, and I always look forward to the pizza at the end of the night.
  • Gym Night: What I enjoy most about gym night is that my instructor teaches me how to do exercises and stretches correctly. I really enjoy meeting up with the same people every week.
A smiling group of four young men play a card game

Left to right: Matt Bigham, Brian Gallucci, Matt Shea and Drew Sartell

Matt and Cheryl Bigham

Like Drew, Matt Bigham participants in Queen’s Gambit, and also enjoys axe throwing outings. “The axe throwing is as fun to watch as it is to throw,” says Matt. “I also like bowling and mini golf. But especially love the pizza and games.”

Matt’s mother, Cheryl, appreciates the acitivities, including golf outings. “It provides him, exercise, fresh air, and a new experience.The social aspects of all the activities are so important. The team at NeArc are always providing new fun experiences.These programs really help the emotional well-being of this community of autistic adults.”

John and Cathy Williams

John Williams began receiving support from the Northeast Arc during the COVID-19 pandemic, and his mother, Cathy, says it’s been a great learning experience for both of them, as well as a rewarding experience emotionally and socially.

“During the pandemic we hoped to find group activities to do and Northeast Arc offered a wonderful online program that John does and he really looks forward to it. John likes to be a part of these programs because there are limited options for adults with autism in this area. He does have a part-time job and volunteers, but the Adult Autism Support Center helps his social skills and gives him a chance to be independent.”

Maria Poulos and Aaron Bishop

Aaron has been attending activities through the Northeast Arc for several years, and his mother, Maria, has seen a positive impact over that time.

“The activities range from online support groups and games to more physical outings such as golf and more passive activities such as art. Also there have been holiday events and other get togethers,” writes Maria. “The outreach has been truly successful and effective. At first it was hard to get involved but now it has become an important part of his social life. There is a feeling of welcoming and belonging which is a essential to the human experience. This program has attained that.”

Maria also praised two of Northeast Arc’s program directors, Mary Ellen D’Angelo and Heather Burgess. “They have organized the program magnificently which allows for much independence in selecting activities and becoming part of groups without much family intervention. It has helped Aaron become more confident and more independent and given him more opportunities to meet new people and try new things.”



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