Childhood (5 to 21 years)

Childhood (5–21 years)

Our specialized school services are designed for children ages 5 – 21 with intellectual and developmental disabilities including Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and other related conditions. With locations across the Hudson Valley, we deliver exceptional quality education using evidence-based methods that prepare students for life beyond school. Children in our program are referred by their home school districts so they can participate in our highly specialized academic and therapeutic services. There is no cost for children that qualify and transportation is provided. Please note that students with disabilities are eligible to receive special education services until the age of 21. However, some young adults and their families might opt to leave school services earlier than 21 to pursue work or some kind of adult service.

A girl practices writing with a black pen.


Academic instruction is delivered by NYS Certified Special Education Teachers with support from Certified Teacher Assistants and Teacher Aides. Each student has an individualized education program (IEP), and teaching staff record measurable progress toward goals in student plans. Instruction is facilitated by technologies, including high-definition interactive smart screens using academic applications. Through commitment to the highest level of educational quality, we give each student the best opportunity to maximize their level of readiness for life after graduating from school.

A young girl with a big smile staring at the viewer.

Clinical Services

When it is determined that a student needs therapies such as Speech Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, we provide those direct therapies as part of the school day. All therapies are provided by licensed professionals in state-of-the-art facilities. These services are designed to help child development and allow students to get maximum benefit from academic instruction. Our school programs also include trained and qualified Behavior Clinicians that conduct analysis and develop behavior intervention plans when needed.

A boy wears headphones while placing shaped into a yellow frame.

Adaptive Communication

One of the most common challenges for children with disabilities is communication. As part of our program, Speech Language Therapists design individualized communication systems for children who need them. These systems often include low and high tech solutions including Picture Exchange, Sign Language, iPads and other tablets with communication apps and other specialized communication devices. Our program works with families to carry these communication strategies over to the home.

Two children enjoy a merry go round in the sunshine.

Adaptive Physical Education & Play

Specialized physical education classes are a regular part of the school curriculum at Abilities First. Student learn to develop strength, coordination and overcome individual physical challenges. It’s also important for children to play, which occurs inside in the physical education space and outside on the state-of-the art playground constructed in 2017/2018.

Woman with a child in a playroom helping her on a swing.

Day Camp for Extended School Breaks

Our school is a 12-month program; however, the school is closed three times per year for extended school breaks (i.e., ten days or more). These include spring break, break between regular school year and summer session and break between summer session and beginning of new school year. This can create hardship for working families that may not be able to find specialized child care. To address this, Abilities First offers a Day Camp during these extended breaks. This is a full-day program that takes place at the Poughkeepsie school site and is funded by a grant from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). In order to qualify, students must be determined eligible for OPWDD services and live with their families in Putnam, Dutchess, Ulster, Columbia or Greene Counties.

A girl sitting behind a stack of books with her face hidden.

Transition Services

Students in the high-school years (i.e., 14 years and older) should begin specific planning for life after graduation. Each student in this age group works with a transition team including their Special Education Teacher, Transition Coordinator, Occupational Therapist (if required) and staff from Abilities First Employment Services division to develop goals and a transition plan. These activities prepare students for graduation and ensure a smooth transition to adult services or employment.


Dutchess County

Abilities First School at LaGrange (Firemens Way)
24 Firemens Way,
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Phone: (845) 452-0774
Hours: 8:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Abilities First Integrated School at Hyde Park
103 W. Market Street
Red Hook, NY 12574
Phone: (845) 758-2241 ext. 21590
Hours: 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Orange County

Abilities First School at Straus Family Pavillion
59 Windsor Highway
New Windsor, NY 12553
Phone: (845) 330-0356
Hours: 8:00 AM – 2:30 PM
Abilities First Preschool Executive Drive
121 Executive Drive, Suite 100
New Windsor, NY 12553
Phone: 845-303-2408
Hours: 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM