November 22, 2016

Our Research is On The Move!

This summer, the Boston Higashi School Research Department teamed up with Dr. Ashley Woodman from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Dr. Miriam Evans from CAST-Wakefield to examine the effectiveness of our school's jogging program. The findings were very promising and showed that a daily morning jogging routine not only reduced the number of problematic behaviors (e.g., self-injurious behaviors, disruptive behaviors) displayed by our students, but also increased academic performance (e.g., time on task).

BHS in UMass Amherst Newsletter

The Boston Higashi School Research Team is excited to announce our collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMA). Boston Higashi School was recently mentioned in their Department of Developmental Brain Sciences' monthly newsletter. We owe special thanks to Dr. Ashley Woodman, of UMA, and Dr. Miriam Evans of CAST-Wakefield for helping us to complete a very exciting study about our jogging program! Please stay tuned for results.

November 21, 2016

Check out our Fall 2016 Higashi Highlights

Check out this quarter's edition of Higashi Highlights!

Fall on campus brought with it a renewed enthusiasm for learning and fun, as we ushered in a new school year full of possibility!

In this issue: Our fall Gala was truly "A Night to Remember," Sports Illustrated comes to campus on Sports Day, and Higashi is part of a piece on Autism and Sports (SI's November 14th issue), a research update for our ongoing studies, the new greenhouse project takes root, and much more!

Read this Issue

November 17, 2016

Film "Life, Animated" a Compelling Story of Family Triumph

Today some of our staff headed into Boston to attend a preview of the film, Life, Animated, sponsored by the ARC of Massachusetts, and we even got a photo op with star Owen Suskind and his mom! 

A synopsis from the Life, Animated website:
"LIFE, ANIMATED is the inspirational story of Owen Suskind, a young man who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. This emotional coming-of-age story follows Owen as he graduates to adulthood and takes his first steps toward independence. The subject of his father Ron Suskind’s New York Times bestseller, Owen was a thriving three year old who suddenly and inexplicably went silent – and for years after remained unable to connect with other people or to convey his thoughts, feelings or desires. Over time, through repeated viewings of Disney classics like THE LITTLE MERMAID and THE LION KING, Owen found useful tools to help him to understand complex social cues and to re-connect with the world around him." 

Our friend Dr. Stephen Shore was one of the co-authors of the social skills curriculum that is available for free download on the film's website! Check it out here:

November 15, 2016

New Consul General of Japan Visits

We were honored to welcome the new Consul General of Japan, Mr. Rokuichiro Michii, new Consul Mr. Yasuhiro Yamauchi, and Mr. Matt Krebs, the Executive Director of the Japan Society of Boston. Our special visitors came for a school tour, and heard our Jazz Band perform during assembly time. We hope they will join us at more Higashi events in the future!

November 14, 2016

Sports Illustrated Comes to Higashi!

**Read the Sports Illustrated article online here**

Higashi at the Intersection of Autism and Sports

As some of you may already know, Boston Higashi School was recently featured on the tv program 60 Minutes Sports (which airs on Showtime), and also in the November 14th issue of Sports Illustrated. What an exciting opportunity this was! You may be wondering, how did this all come about?

Back in April 2016, Heather Katz, Director of Training, received a voice mail from Stephanie Apstein, a researcher for Sports Illustrated. She was researching information on autism and sports, and had interviewed a doctor at Mass General Hospital who mentioned our school. Stephanie looked our school up online and called. After interviewing Heather on the phone for about an hour, Heather was told that she would hear back later once the story was getting ready for print to verify the facts. Months went by with no word. In August, Stephanie called Heather with “good news” and “bad news.” The “good news” was that the story was going well. The “bad news” was that the story was being pushed back because CBS had picked up interest in it, and wanted to have permission to come and film on location at our school for their piece! (It was the best “bad news” we have possibly ever heard!)

Rome Hartman, Producer, and Jack Weingart, Associate Producer at 60 Minutes Sports, flew out to BHS the last week of September and filmed for 2 days. They filmed PE classes, morning jogging, and a few academic classes. On their final day of filming, Jon Wertheim, Executive Editor of Sports Illustrated, flew into town to visit and record an interview of Heather. He is also responsible for initiating this entire project, as it was his brainchild to write the original story on the intersection of autism and sports. Jack and Stephanie enjoyed the feel of Higashi so much, they came back for Sports Day to videotape, photograph and interview some of our parents.

Overall, this was such a great experience for our staff, our students, and our school. The students were “pros” even with the cameras and microphones in their faces - they kept the smiles on their faces, and remained focused on their tasks. As we are the only school mentioned in the tv piece, the on-line article, and in Sports Illustrated, it goes without saying that Boston Higashi School is, without a doubt, the premier school for educating children with autism. Our focus on sports is just one example of how we educate the whole child, instead of just “fixing” deficits. In a world where autism numbers continue to climb, we are glad that our emphasis on fitness is beginning to reach a wider audience in a way that parents and families can embrace. 

**Read the Sports Illustrated article online here**

November 04, 2016

An Afternoon of Jazz with the Berklee School of Music

We were delighted to welcome students from the Berklee School of Music for an afternoon of amazing music! Six musicians, three of them prestigious TOMODACHI Suntory scholars from Japan, performed several jazz pieces for an audience of captivated students, teachers, and staff. 

The concert opened with a song by the Higashi Jazz Band, and closed with a collaborative performance of the jazz standard, Watermelon Man, featuring both Berklee and Higashi musicians. In between, the Berklee musicians played a range of jazz favorites and even a Japanese song in honor of their visit to Higashi. 

The Higashi students were all smiles as they listened to such impressive music - the performers made it look effortless. Jazz Band member Antony even remarked “I hope that’s future me,” gesturing toward the Berklee musicians on the stage. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.