About Us

About AHRC New York City Schools

Services and Supports for Children and Students Ages 3 to 21


AHRC New York City’s Educational Services department believes that children and adolescents grow and thrive in a nurturing, loving, and developmentally appropriate learning environment. High-quality developmentally appropriate instruction provides the foundation for independence, autonomy, and enhanced quality of life.  Teachers and parents are viewed as collaborators in the students’ educational endeavors and skills development. Students, from children to young adults, are encouraged to respect and cooperate with others in our schools and in our neighborhoods.

Our programs foster a sense of community and aim to develop each child’s ability to contribute as a responsible community member. AHRC NYC is committed to serving ALL students and their families by embracing individuals with special needs, creating personalized programming, and respecting cultural diversity.

History of AHRC New York City

AHRC New York City was founded in 1949 by parents of children with developmental delays at a time when there were few services available to meet their children’s needs.  These parents banded together to launch a grassroots movement that forever changed the lives of their children who had largely been ignored, ostracized, or forgotten by society.

There were few special education programs in the New York City public school system in the middle of the twentieth century. AHRC NYC opened classes and schools for children and students with disabilities and advocated for their right to receive an appropriate education.  This was long before the federal laws that guaranteed special education, now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, (IDEA,) or its most modern revision, IDEA, made a free and appropriate public education for children an entitlement in 1974.  Moreover, years before the early intervention and specialized preschool services were legislated, AHRC NYC, always on the forefront, had already established and operated programs for infants, toddlers, and preschool children with developmental delays.

Currently, AHRC New York City operates 7 school sites that serve children and students with disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disorders in all NYC boroughs.  These include five preschools, (for children ages 3 to 5), two elementary schools, (for children ages 5 to 12), and a middle/high school, (middle school for students ages 12 to 14 and high school for students ages 15 to 21).

Program Philosophy and Goals

As a family-founded organization, families are a guiding force in fulfilling AHRC New York City’s mission.  A testament to this is that more than two-thirds of the members of our Board of Directors are parents, siblings, and other family members of individuals with developmental disabilities.

Families are strongly encouraged to participate in their child’s education and in all school-related activities.  Paired with this family-centered philosophy is our coordinated team approach in which teachers, therapists, and administrators work together to provide support, education, and guidance based on each child’s unique needs.  AHRC NYC staff meet regularly with families to ensure consistency and continuity of care across all services and environments.

AHRC NYC is keenly aware that no two children are alike and no two families have the same needs.  Consequently, we offer highly-individualized services, tailored to meet a child’s unique profile, as well as to enhance families’ capacity to provide care.

AHRC New York City believes that good programs are:

1.    Developmentally Appropriate:

    • promoting social, emotional, physical, creative/expressive, and cognitive development
    • providing student-centered activities to enhance and strengthen growth
    • adapting learning opportunities to the functioning level of each student
    • moving along a continuum of student independence by presenting developmentally appropriate challenges

2.    Aligned to Common Core State Standards (CCSS):

    • promoting literacy by providing a carefully-planned learning environment with opportunities for oral language development, phonemic awareness, experiences with letter recognition, comprehension, and writing experimentation
    • promoting key ideas in content areas
    • promoting process skills to equip students with the tools to learn concepts in each of the content areas
    • recognizing the obligation of educators to increase exposure to core curriculum content for learners with special needs

3.    Emotionally safe:

    • creating respectful, nurturing, and welcoming places and experiences for students, families, staff, and communities
    • building a non-judgmental nurturing atmosphere in which it feels safe to take risks
    • promoting the idea that all children are welcome and included

4.    Family-centered:

    • empowering and supporting families to be central team members
    • assuring a culturally sensitive, competent approach that promotes ethnic pride
    • providing ongoing family support and training

5.    Community-centered:

    • using the resources of children’s communities to promote healthy development and learning
    • ensuring that students are consistently exposed to inclusionary opportunities to improve their community involvement

6.    Focused on independence

    • working as a collaborative team to develop each child’s and student’s unique path toward independence