Educational Method

Daily Life Therapy®

Age Range Served


Staff/Student Ratio


Current Enrollment


We offer several programs to support a range of educational needs:

217 Day Program

The Day Program at the Boston Higashi School operates 217 days a year, and utilizes the methodology of Daily Life Therapy® to deliver all of its educational services through a holistic, group dynamic program. Students develop an inner sense of well-being and confidence which propels their curiosity about the world around them through clear structure, a high level of engaging activities, and spontaneous fun.

Our program blends the curricular areas of communication, social education, academics, art, music, physical education, technology and employment education. Instructional methods are designed to teach students at their individual level through real and meaningful experiences in the classroom, throughout the school campus, and in the community.

We are an open school; we have many visitors, and parents are always welcome to observe their child in class. Parent collaboration is essential for successful generalization of school learning to the home and community, and forms a key component of our school mission.

365 Residential Program

Residential Life is a blend of the nurturing, comforting and caring aspects of home, complemented by a 24 – hour educational environment. While campus life at the residence is less structured than during the day, it implements the same methodologies under Daily Life Therapy® to promote generalization across all settings. Teaching self-care skills is a major focus of residential education across all age levels. Another focus is to teach recreation and leisure skills in order to develop a broad range of interests, enabling students to participate with their siblings and other family members during visits home. Students enjoy frequent community outings, such as trips to museums, the YMCA, bowling, movies, hiking in the Blue Hills, shopping, and dining at local restaurants.

Vacation Programs

Vacation Program is offered for current students during seasonal school vacations to help students maintain familiar routines while participating in recreational, skill-building activities. Students engage in leisure, athletics, creative arts, and community activities embedded in the Daily Life Therapy® continuum.

Winter Holiday Vacation Program

Runs from the end of December until after New Year’s Day.

Spring Fling Vacation Program

Runs for two weeks from mid to the end of April.

Stars & Stripes Vacation Program

Runs for two weeks from the end of June to the beginning of July.

Summer Sizzler Vacation Program

Runs for about two weeks from the end of August until after Labor Day.

Accredited by the National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services. The Boston Higashi School is affiliated with Lesley University.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please click on the tabs below to view frequently asked questions in each category. For questions about Admissions or the Admissions process, please visit our Admissions FAQs page.

What is Daily Life Therapy®?

The major tenet of Daily Life Therapy® is that education should be conducted in an environment of normality. It is an educational philosophy and approach that is based upon three “pillars,” or principles, that foster the development of human dignity and self-esteem in the growing child, allowing him/her to contribute to and benefit from society. Recognizing the social isolation and emotional instability of children with autism, our approach seeks to help children form bonds, relate to others, communicate, and control their anxieties so as to master tasks and learn skills which will allow them to relate to others while developing independence. The Musashino Higashi and the Boston Higashi Schools are the only schools that use Daily Life Therapy®. To learn more, please visit our “Daily Life Therapy®” section.

What is your schedule of operation?

The level of programming is determined by the student’s IEP (Individual Education Plan) Team pursuant to Federal and State guidelines. The Boston Higashi School collaborates with school districts to ensure that efforts prioritizing the Least Restrictive Environment requirements of IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) have been employed. The student’s IEP team may afford due diligence to examination of weekend reports, audit of parent training participation, home visits by LEA (Local Educational Agency) and/or BHS, and Functional Behavior Assessment or other evaluations as determined by consensus of the team. Please follow the links below to read a more in-depth description of each program.

Day Program 217 Days

Students may also participate in our vacation day programming at parent discretion and funding, or IEP recommendation with district funding.

Residential Program, 365 days

An extended school year program is available if the IEP team has determined that substantial regression and problems with recoupment will occur in the absence of the structured environment of Daily Life Therapy® implemented by Boston Higashi School. Vacation programming is automatically integrated into the 365 plan.

Do the residential students go out into the community?

Yes, frequently. Acquiring community skills is one of the goals for the residential students. The students visit the post office to buy stamps to send letters to their parents, the library to check out books, and the supermarket to buy their cooking ingredients. The students go swimming throughout the year. They also take many age appropriate field trips (e.g. to movies, restaurants, and beaches.)

How are Clinical Services delivered?

Clinical Services are offered in a consultative collaborative model utilizing licensed specialists in their fields, including speech and language pathologists, a clinical psychologist, occupational therapists and a physical therapist. Having this broad array of service providers available to consult about the individual needs of students, as well as programmatic enhancements, contributes to meeting the needs of all students in these areas on a full-time in-context basis throughout their entire day. This provides opportunity for the continuous practice of subtle therapeutic interventions that may be implemented in the student’s natural setting.

Do you have an adult program?

Boston Higashi School is licensed to educate children and young adults through the age of 22. Students between the ages of 19-22 have specially designed community based employment in addition to functional academics to promote the development of an individual lifestyle for each student. We offer specialized transition services working collaboratively with families and adult service providers during the transition process, and also provide on-going follow-up.

What are the classroom teachers' qualifications and student/teacher ratios?

Most teachers have a Master’s degree in Special Education and are licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Boston Higashi School provides a 3:1 school-wide student teacher ratio. Class ratios in the Elementary, Middle School and High School are 6:1 to 8:1 respectively.

Do you follow the Common Core Curriculum Standards? Do the students take MCAS?

Yes. The Boston Higashi School provides instruction aligned to the Common Core Standards and Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Students participate in selected content areas as part of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). Massachusetts students in grades 3 through 10 participate in MCAS testing (usually through the submission of an alternative assessment portfolio), and students from other states participate in their respective state assessment programs in accordance with their individualized educational plans.

How do you teach students of differing abilities in the same class?

The Boston Higashi School provides differentiated instruction throughout all areas of the school’s curriculum. Differentiated instruction is based on the premise of providing instruction that meets the various needs of all students within the classroom. Under the Daily Life Therapy® educational model, students are educated in a group setting. Because of this, teachers and clinical staff are experienced in modifying instruction to meet the various needs and learning styles of each student within the group. Individual needs, such as a student’s readiness, background knowledge and learning style are addressed within the context of the group through differentiated instruction.

What approach is used to teach literacy skills?

The Boston Higashi School Literacy Specialists utilize a balanced approach when teaching reading, writing, communication and listening skills. This multimodal instructional approach allows our special education classroom teachers to address various needs and individual differences within the group. Literacy instruction is incorporated and embedded throughout all content areas of the curriculum.

How do you use technology to support writing?

The use of technology is embedded throughout the day to enhance academics, improve communication and provide leisure opportunities. Teachers incorporate interactive whiteboards, Smartboards, and educational iPad applications into lessons in order to increase learning through fun and meaningful activities. The students participate in technology lessons that include typing, mouse skills, academic programs and leisure. Students are encouraged to use low and high tech voice output devices, which expand expressive, receptive and social pragmatic language. Technology allows our students greater access to educational, vocational and community settings.

What is your approach to addressing the sensory needs of your students?

Individuals with autism often require intense sensory experiences in order to help regulate their systems. Our curriculum has been developed very carefully to provide opportunities for sensory stimulation and exploration that are integrated and addressed in a natural context throughout our student’s entire day. Sensory processing is promoted during ADL’s (dressing, eating and toileting) as well during academic, communication, physical education, art, music and leisure classes. The curriculum is structured to offer a range of visual, tactile, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, proprioceptive and vestibular input to stimulate, regulate and help our students learn to overcome sensory obstacles. In addition, student-specific accommodations are used as needed.

What is your approach to communication?

Boston Higashi School uses a total communication approach employing a variety of strategies including gestures, symbols, pictures, basic sign language, spoken language and voice output devices to support the students’ communication. Speech-language pathologists work in collaboration with classroom and residential teachers to enhance receptive, expressive and social communication on a daily basis. In addition to the wide range of visuals, all classrooms have speech generating devices such as, ipads that are programmed to support communication and the curriculum. Boston Higashi School has a variety of augmentative and alternative communication devices.

What does HIGASHI mean?

Higashi literally means “East.” The school was named by its founder Dr. Kiyo Kitahara who established the Musashino Higashi School in Tokyo 50 years ago and the Boston Higashi School over 25 years ago. Dr. Kitahara chose the name “Higashi” because the sun rises in the east and each new day brings hope.

Do you use any medications to control students behavior?

No. Currently there are no medications that have been shown to treat autism. All medications that are given to children with autism have been developed to treat different conditions and are given because the symptoms of autism may sometimes appear similar. However, the underlying causes are not necessarily the same. Under Daily Life Therapy®, the goal is to wean students off psychotropic medication and alternative treatments over time in order to enhance their overall learning experience. This is an individualized process done in consultation with each family and the student’s prescribing physician. Students with dual diagnoses, including medical conditions such as seizures, may still take medications provided the required documentation is submitted.

What is the expectation for parent participation?

The goal for our students and their families is to experience a high quality of life. Therefore a close partnership and collaboration MUST exist between parents and the Boston Higashi School. Both school and home must have the same values and expectations to help each child grow to his/her full potential. The Boston Higashi School has developed a process for parents to become closely involved with their children’s education including Parents Collaboration Meetings, school events, and consistent weekly updates. We also offer home visits to assist parents with the implementation of Daily Life Therapy®.