People may see me a little differently because I don’t like to chit chat and I’m a pretty active guy. I like to move around instead of sit at a desk, but I always get my work done. Sometimes I stand while I work. At Cotting School, my teachers and friends see everything about me, without labels. I am smart, I can tell you interesting facts about my classes, I am a great piano player and I love using technology. iMovie is my favorite!

I have Autism, which makes it difficult for me to focus and pay attention. Sometimes, I don’t really like to talk much, but I’m listening hard and can tell you about what I’m learning in my class, like world cultures and different cities. In school, I work with my teachers to practice Math in the community and also do Yoga/meditation each morning. I recently started a job at the YMCA folding towels; I’m really good at it. After school, I attend theater group with my friends. It might not always seem like I am interested, but I really enjoy being around people, especially my family, teachers and friends. My teachers at Cotting School see that, and they help me figure out ways to connect with people.



Some people see me as a person with Down Syndrome. At my school people see a person who enjoys working and going skiing with my friends. Everyone at Cotting School knows I’m working hard to achieve my goals of living independently and going to college.

I have been a student at Cotting School since I was 12. I have made many friends at Cotting and also have a boyfriend. I work hard in my classes and also going out to a job two mornings a week. Like any teenager, I love to have fun in after school activities, ski trip, dances, prom and best buddies.

This year has been very exciting for me because not only am I a Cotting student but I am also a HOPEhouse student! I live at HOPEhouse overnight Monday-Friday. I am working on budgeting, meal planning and preparation, and doing laundry and other household chores. I am enjoying living with my friends and we like planning social-recreational activities together. Sometimes we disagree, but when that happens we try to make compromises. I think that HOPEhouse will help me become even more independent.



There are times when people look at me and all they see is my disability. Luckily my school sees me for who I am. At Cotting School I’m a student who enjoys Math, having fun with friends, and playing basketball.

I have Autism which I was diagnosed with as a child. My Autism causes difficulty in my ability to communicate and form relationships with other people. I also have a seizure disorder.

At Cotting School my teachers adapt the lessons they teach and help me work at a pace that is good for me. This is great for me because I excel at high level Math concepts and the more time I spend learning the better I get.

Sometimes when I meet new people they expect me to think and respond at a fast pace. When people are patient, take the time to get to know me, and give me the time I need to respond, they learn how smart I am, that I like to joke around and that I have a great sense of humor!

At home I like to spend time with my younger sister. My Mom and Dad like to watch me play basketball and my family and I are very involved in our church. Oh yeah, and my mom always needs my help with electronics and technology…I don’t know what she would do without me!



Sometimes people look at me and all they see is my wheelchair. At Cotting School, my teachers and friends see everything about me, without labels. I am smart, I love to learn, I have great taste in music, and I’m really good at making friends.

I have Cerebral Palsy, which is a brain injury that makes it difficult for me to control my muscles. In addition to CP I have vision impairments. I don’t see and I don’t speak the way a lot of other kids my age do.  Sometimes adults and other kids assume that I don’t know what is going on around me, but I am very aware.

At Cotting School I’ve made many friends. Every day at school, I work with people who help me overcome my challenges and teach me things like Math and Science. In my classroom I’m writing stories and learning about the weather! I receive therapies while I’m at school, too.

Afterschool is the most fun because I get to do things with my friends. I play baseball and soccer. I enjoy getting to know new people and I try new things. With the support of my family, my school, and my friends I get to participate in all kinds of things.

My Mom and I recently spoke at the State House in Boston, Massachusetts to advocate for Special Education Circuit Breaker funding. You can watch us here to learn more!

Cotting Student Nikita and her Ski Instructors in the snow on the ski slopes

About That Awesome Cotting School Ski Trip…

The Cotting School ski trip to Mount Sunapee, in Newbury, New Hampshire was a fabulous three day trip for our kids. For some of them, it was their first time on skis. For others, it was their first time away from home. For all of them, being on the trip - both on and off the ski hill - was an extraordinary experience all the more special for being shared with friends.

We are grateful to all the members of the Cotting community who made the trip possible, including the kitchen staff, the medical department, the transportation team, the administrative staff, the faculty and program assistants who worked to prepare the students for the trip, and those who covered for staff members accompanying students on the trip.

For many of us, the thrill of getting our kids on skis is matched only by the immense relief of passing off our caregiving responsibilities to you and relishing a respite while knowing that our kids are safe, happy, and enjoying a spectacular learning experience.       

We do know what's involved, at least before and after skiing: the feedings, hygiene, toileting, medications, sleep routines, packing/unpacking, dressing/undressing, not to mention going for a swim or socializing during downtimes. To ski with our kids on the slopes - helping with ski clothes and equipment, getting on and off the chair lifts, and actually coming down the hill! - and then to do all the rest back at the hotel, while making sure that everyone is having a great time throughout... The whole thing must be exhausting, and we can't thank you enough. 

Finally we are grateful beyond words to Dan Cuddy for being the heart and soul and leader of the ski trip. We don't know half of what is involved in planning, preparation, and management of the trip, but we know we have you to thank for arranging the supplies, the lodgings, the transportation, the meals, the staff support, the awards ceremony, liaising with families and NEHSA. We also hear you cook a mean breakfast! Thank you for making this trip happen, and for bringing such joy to all 24 kids and their families.

"Parents of Cotting Students on the 2017 Ski Trip"

"Parents of Cotting Students on the 2017 Ski Trip"
Jenel posing next to Cotting Student Art

Cotting has provided me the foundation I needed

When I started at Cotting School I was eight years old, medically fragile and had challenges with learning. I had struggled with math and reading, but from the beginning I felt that Cotting was going to give me the support I needed.

Today my reading and math are pretty strong. I spent a lot of time preparing for MCAS testing, and I am proud to say I passed on my first try! I’ve taken English classes at Middlesex Community College while enrolled at Cotting. This is part of the dual enrollment option. I’ve also taken an online Math class which taught me how to work independently and push myself. I am challenged, but it is a good challenge.

Cotting School has taught me so much. I have received strong academic support and the tools to advocate for myself. As a person in a wheelchair, it is difficult to navigate outside of my home and Cotting. Attending classes at Middlesex has given me the chance to use my skills. I am still learning but Cotting has provided me the foundation I needed. My next step? I would like to attend a transitional program where I can attend college, while working on advocating and life skills.

If you’ve been kind enough to give to Cotting in the past, please consider making a donation now. You’re making a difference in my life, and in the lives of my fellow students. Thank you for your consideration.

Peter working in the Cotting library

Preparing students for the next step in their life

"What I like most about Cotting is how the students and teachers are extremely kind and friendly.” - Peter G.

Peter is a happier, more confident and more capable person as a result of his time at Cotting School. He has a social life that he didn't have before. He has friends to talk to and hang out with. Going to the prom, the three-day ski trips, and playing basketball with his ‘Falcon’ teammates, have been as important to him, and to us, as what he's learning in the classroom. We've also seen the academic progress that Peter has made, and the pride he feels, because the work is all his own. Our biggest regret was not finding Cotting sooner.

Peter's also really blossomed as a result of Cotting's community work program. He's developed such good work habits and wonderful relationships with his supervisors and co-workers at a local library.  We feel that everything he has learned at Cotting is preparing him for the best possible launch into his adult life.

Peter has since graduated from Cotting, moving from Cotting student, to Cotting graduate, to intern, to employee!  Because of his participation in Cotting’s Project Bridges work program, the inclusive open-mindedness of the library’s director and staff, and Peter’s continuing efforts to do his best, Peter is currently an employee at the library.

Opportunities in life matter, and we are grateful that Peter has benefitted from the academic, social, and work opportunities that the Cotting School provides to all its students.

Garron Signature

Joan and Doug Garron
Patrick celebrates with his teammates Cotting basketball team

A sense of community, belonging, and comfort

As Patrick’s grandparents, we are tremendously thankful for the social and academic progress we have witnessed in him, a kind of growth that had not been taking place for him within his previous school setting.

Patrick has formed associations that are meaningful to him. As a result of the warmth, caring, and personalized approach of administrators, teachers, and staff, Patrick no longer feels anxious about attending school, but rather, a joy and healthy anticipation. It is heartwarming for us and other family members to hear Patrick describing new friendships and being part of various school groups. Cotting has afforded Patrick a sense of community, belonging, and comfort. Importantly, he has gained a greater self-confidence and esteem.

We are both impressed and most appreciative of the expertise and devotion that the Cotting community displays, giving Patrick and each student the opportunity to “achieve their highest learning potential and level of independence.”

As a way of showing our appreciation and support to Cotting, we recently sent a donation. We hope you will consider doing the same.

Diane DeRose and Roland DeRosa signature

Diane and Richard DeRosa
Photo of Lucas in the chair at Cotting's dental facility


Cotting has been a blessing to Lucas and our whole family.  Lucas has grown in so many ways since attending Cotting and becoming part of the Cotting Community.  Thanks to Cotting, Lucas is able to participate in sports and be on a team (basketball, soccer, baseball) and feel proud of himself when he is cheered or makes a basket!  He enjoys being in Chorus and he actually sang at the concert, to just about everyone's surprise!

He is talking and communicating more and more every day and is able to navigate the school on his own.  He has made friends and goes to dances and outings!  Lucas is learning how to read, trying hard to write his name, working on the computer, participating in "On The Job" and learning about money.

The staff at Cotting is top-notch, and the carryover from school to home is evident. Lucas is proud of his accomplishments and loves to share them with us.  He is more on task at home these days and tries harder every day to communicate his needs. He is calmer, more articulate and more  independent.

Cotting’s dental clinic has been so helpful. In the past, Lucas has been so afraid to go to the dentist, so his teacher scheduled him to go weekly to help de-sensitize him.  It has worked beautifully!  When we went to the dentist at Franciscan Hospital a few weeks ago, he did great and even had x-rays for the first time without having to be put to sleep!

If we have a question or concern for a teacher or someone on the Administrative team at Cotting, there is always someone to talk to. There are answers to be had, which leaves us feeling good, not frustrated. I know my son is in the best possible place he could be, with the best possible supports and staff.


Moira Mahegan
Photo of Nico playing soccer at Cotting School


Our son, Nico, was in a loving environment at school, but the school was not equipped to give him what he needs. He was struggling in third grade: he had a stack of uncompleted math papers, he was not reading well, and he was alone at recess wheeling around the schoolyard. The other students did not want to slow the pace of their games to include him.  He withdrew emotionally. His self-esteem started to suffer. Nico couldn’t eat lunch in the ten minutes allocated for it. Each morning before school, he had tremendous anxiety.

We didn’t realize how much he was missing until he came to Cotting. It has been a transformative experience. At Cotting, everybody smiles; there is wonderful energy.  The staff are amazing; there is none of that anxiety masked by over-politeness. Because they are experts, the staff exhibit a total natural confidence and a human-to-human response. Their attitude is, “Let’s get to know him as a person.”

Nico is getting the support he needs to learn math. He answers questions that help him sequence information from his reading so he can craft a paragraph. Nico is playing tag at recess; he has gone on playdates. He has even become a bit of a class clown because he feels comfortable and can be his true, extroverted self. What a relief! Nico eats lunch now. He participates in all the activities and plays all the sports. Most importantly, he is a successful student and a successful friend.

The team of therapists and teachers who work with him have suggestions for us on what to do at home to help Nico advance. School and life work together now. Children don’t grow alone; their families grow with them. Nico now has all the supports in place to learn the skills to live an independent life. How wonderful to be able to feel confident that he will do that!"

Billana Angelova and Daniel Bolton
Photo of Cotting student Hannah


When Hannah came to Cotting School at 10 years old, she was ready for a different school experience.  She needed an environment in which she was challenged to reach beyond the familiar, and one where she could help others reach, too.

“You know,” Hannah’s father, Jonathan, emphasizes, “you just know when you walk in the door [that this is the right place].  Everyone is so friendly and welcoming.”

Today, Hannah is confident and functioning academically at a level she was never expected to.  She is happy and has friends.  She is not nearly as shy as she was when she began school.  She plays soccer and basketball and shoots basket after basket with a big grin on her face.

“What I love about Cotting,” says her mother, Pat, “is that the Cotting staff won’t stop until they find the right tool to help meet your child where she is.  The minute I say Hannah is frustrated, the next day a new thing comes home to help her."

In addition to her sports activities at Cotting, Hannah participates in gymnastics at the Special Olympics. She takes trips to the mall and other special activities with “Just Us Girls,” a Saturday program for girls with special needs.  “And you haven’t lived until you've seen Hannah dance!” Pat says.

Pat and Jonathan
photo of Thoms running on the track


"If you asked me 6 years ago what I wanted to do for a career, I would have said "I don't know" or given you a sarcastic answer. Now I can tell you that I'm going to be a radio host, and I can tell you about the steps I had to take to come to this realization.

My disability has never been just one challenge.  I has always been a thousand or more challenges, where one gets fixed or solved and another takes its place. It has been like this my whole life, One challenge or another at home or at school.

When I was younger, most of the other kids kept themselves at a distance from me. They were told I was easily hurt and that meant no one could come near me. Over time this became very lonely for me. When I was almost in third grade, my sister who was one grade ahead of me was following me at "recess" wanting to know what I did. I told her "In the winter I drive in a circle (in my wheelchair), and in the fall and spring I drive in an oval.". To this day my sister still tells people the story about how I would drive in circles for fun during recess at school, and how it left me with a lasting scar. At that time I struggled socially, had no friends, and I didn't like going to school. I did not pay attention. I did not do homework, I was just there.

In middle school, things got worse for me.  I was bullied and assaulted, and sank into a dark part of my life. I lost connection with myself, with others, and mostly with my family. When I came to Cotting School I wasn't very interested in school and I didn't think anything could change. My father said "Just try it for one day and see how it goes.". When I arrived at Cotting School I met so many people who have been where I was, and knew what I was going through. I felt as if I had been saved.

At Cotting I sharpened all of my skills. First on my list was getting some new friends. I knew that going through life alone was not what I wanted to do, but I found myself very nervous and shy. The only thing going through my head was that I was the new kid. I did not want the other people around me to think I was weird, so I kept to myself and I was quiet. At that time I met my best friends Dan and Tessa who were standing over in the corner arguing about something silly. I joined in with a funny comment. Tho this day, they still argue about nothing and I still join in with a funny comment. At this time in my life, it was a huge success for me to gain friends. Now, my friends inspire me to learn and do well in school. I became the host of a radio show through my Project Bridges job, working at Radio Perkins (you can even listen to my radio show, online). Having one of the best teachers I've ever had also helped me a lot, but it was mostly me putting in the work.

I have got better at everything and I'm at the point where I want to learn more. I set my sights on higher education because I want to learn more than what I have learned in high school. As I move on with my education, I hope to major in Media and Communication which will help me become the best version of myself. When I finish, I hope to get a job as a radio host, so that I can make people laugh on a worldwide scale. Finally, when I have the attention of my audience, and they have finished laughing, I can educate them using my experiences and the knowledge of my past."

Tom Buckley