FOCUS Center for Autism

(WTNH)- Autism is one of the fastest growing developmental/cognitive disorders, yet historically one of the most misunderstood and underfunded. Donna Swanson, Executive Director and co-founder of the FOCUS Center for Autism and the Fresh Start School in Canton, has dedicated her life to sharing the many abilities students with Autism have, and the contributions they offer. She’s discusses what FOCUS is doing to show people with Autism enriching their communities:

  • Here at FOCUS and the Fresh Start School, we strive to change these misconceptions and show that every child – no matter where they land on the spectrum – enriches our communities.
  • Our definition of autism is “creatively wired and socially challenged.”
  • Most notable about the Fresh Start School is the foundation of our education model which is clinically-grounded in Milieu Therapy and embraces evidenced-based practices for social learning and mindfulness.
  • We focus on strengths and abilities.
  • We focus on engagement, confidence and building trust so that they can Belong, Learn and Succeed!
  • We provide an environment where students are constantly being supported, nourished and reinforce the child’s ability to learn.
  • We center on problem solving and coping skills while, at the same time, offer a safe place for these skills to be practiced and integrated into the child’s repertoire of strategies.
  • Practicing, integrating, and expanding on a student’s repertoire in a safe community is what National Learning Disabilities Month is all about.


  • The Fresh Start School will be hosting an Open House on October 17th from 6 to 7:30 PM at 126 Down Avenue in Canton.
  • The Open House will educate interested parents, potential students, educators of public and private schools, and curious members of surrounding towns to the programs and curriculum catering specifically to children with Autism, especially the Milieu Therapy model.


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