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Who are OFS students?

Our K-12 students and the 18-21-year-olds in our college and vocational prep program are a diverse community. They come to Orchard Friends at varying ages, and for a variety of reasons. Some of our students come to us for intensive, short-term support; others choose to stay at OFS for their entire academic careers. For some of our students, the primary goal is academic support. For others, the focus may be around communications, interpersonal relationships, or healing. No matter what brings each student to us—or whether they are here for 6 months or 12 years—we focus on how best to move them forward equipped with everything they need to thrive wherever they go next.

There is no one type of OFS student. But what they all have in common is the need for more intensive, consistent support; flexible, personalized education plans; and the time and space to learn at their own pace, and in the ways that work best for them.

Is Orchard Friends the right school for my child?

At Orchard Friends, our focus is on capability, possibility, and individualized achievement. Unlike many other special education schools, we don’t serve one specific student population.

Instead, we’ve created a learning environment where many different types of students grow and thrive. Some Orchard students go on to study at the university level. Some pursue vocational training. Others graduate and immediately pursue stable, satisfying employment and a more independent life.

Our individualized approach and safe, supportive learning environment benefit students with a wide variety of learning differences. As a result, we’re often able to reach students who have been unable to learn elsewhere. 

We most frequently work with students: 

  • On the autism spectrum;

  • With dyslexia or other language-based learning differences;

  • With auditory processing disorders;

  • With sensory processing disorders;

  • With ADD and ADHD;

  • With trauma histories, attachment disorders, and regulatory challenges.

How do we support our students?

Although our approach is tailored to each of our students, our focus is the same: to define and achieve the goals that matter most to them; to create an optimal learning experience that heals the wounds of the past and creates safety in the present; to reconnect them to a love of learning; and to surround them with a supporting, nurturing community that cheers them on every step of the way. 

In addition to our expert educators, our team includes:

  • Speech Pathologists

  • Mental Health Professionals

  • Occupational Therapists

  • 1:1 Aides

  • Case Managers

As needed, we can also connect our students and parents with a network of trusted professionals who can provide additional support services outside of our school community. Thanks to the many additional resources we provide, a wide variety of students thrive at Orchard Friends.

“I felt supported at Orchard Friends in a different way than I have anywhere else, and at the end of the day, that's what I want for my kids. I want them to be in an environment that considers their individuality and supports their emotional and intellectual growth.”

— Allison and Rob Weidhass, parents of Elise

The Path to OFS: Charlie’s Story

When Charlie Donegan was getting ready to leave preschool, his teachers took his mother, Carla, aside. “They told me, all of the warm fuzzies of this place are going to evaporate; his experience in kindergarten is going to be different.