ASPIRE was created by Dartmouth students in 2010, and continues to offer play and activity groups for children on the autism spectrum with support from the Special Needs Support Center in Lebanon.

For more information on all the groups, please call the Special Needs Support Center at 603-448-1268 or e-mail the student organizers at Groups meet throughout the year when the college is in session.


When: Saturdays from 1:00- to 3:00
Where: Hampshire Cooperative Nursery School, 104 Lyme Road, Hanover, NH 03766

Playgroup is ASPIRE’s oldest and largest program. We lead younger children on the autism spectrum, ages 4 to 7+, through a number of fun and engaging activities. These activities include story time, an art project, snack time, and of course lots of free play time! Each student volunteer is responsible for playing and interacting with one child, helping this child through the art project and other tasks. Playgroup is fun for kids and volunteers alike, and provides a unique opportunity for children on the spectrum to develop social and communication skills. The agenda for each term also usually includes a trip to the Montshire Science Museum!

Swim Group

When: Fridays from 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Where: Upper Valley Aquatic Center, 100 Arboretum Lane, White River Jct., VT 05001

Special Note:  Prior contact with the organizers is required for attendance at the Swim Group. Call SNSC at 603-448-1268 for general information, and if interested, please be sure to e-mail directly before attending the first time and every time to allow the organizers to plan for adequate coverage.

ASPIRE’s Swim Group was created with the goal of presenting autistic children with a fun new outlet for their energy while also allowing them to gain experience with swimming and social interaction. Every Friday at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center, volunteers work one-on-one with autistic children to learn swimming skills and to have fun. The hour includes half an hour with a swim instructor, who helps kids with various skills such as kicking and blowing bubbles. The UVAC facility includes a lazy river and a water slide, which the volunteers love almost as much as the kids! There is no charge for swim group.


When: Saturdays from 1:15pm-2:45pm
Where: Brace Commons, Dartmouth College (East Wheelock Street, across from the gym)

This is APIRE’s newest group, targeted towards older and higher functioning children on the autism spectrum. The STEPS group was designed after “social thinking” groups but it is not as structured, allowing the kids and volunteers more room to have fun. The theme for each day is based on a specific skill that we help the kids work on through modeling and practice. Since these participants are a bit older, we are able to go on local field trips (such as going out for lunch or getting gelato), and we can do higher-level activities (such as baking and playing organized sports). The program has been continuously growing, and we are excited to see it expand further as we meet the needs of more families!