Campus Experience

Shrub Oak is a community defined by a common sense of purpose, a community committed to excellence, and above all, a community committed to supporting one another. 

Guided by our core values of inclusivity, support, collaboration, and friendship, we approach each day with the belief that everything is possible.


Located just 30 minutes north of New York City, the Shrub Oak campus is situated on 127 gated acres in northern Westchester County. As the area’s leading private day and residential school for autistic students, Shrub Oak offers both proximity to New York City and the unparalleled beauty of the Hudson Valley. Designed for autistic children, adolescents, and young adults with complex co-occurring conditions, our residential program provides a safe, nurturing environment where each student is respected as an individual.

Residential Program

Shrub Oak’s residential program provides ASD students with a continuum of care that extends well beyond the school day. Surrounded by experts who care, Shrub Oak residential students benefit from around the clock supervision complemented by an after-school curriculum that incorporates independent living skills, social development, and relationship building, as well as health and wellness. Each student has their own modern, spacious dorm room in a secure environment supervised by campus life staff.

Day Program

To accommodate younger students and local residents, Shrub Oak also offers a day program developed with the same care and individualized attention as our residential program, integrating each student’s interests, developmental needs, and abilities. 

Health and Wellness

Shrub Oak maintains a 24/7, year-round Health & Wellness department to care for the medical and nursing needs of all students. Our program is supported by a full-time Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, as well as a team of psychiatric nurse practitioners and a consulting psychiatrist. Our nurses are experienced in medication administration, emergency first aid and treatment of minor illnesses and injuries, and management of chronic medical conditions. We work closely with all our families to ensure that our students receive the most appropriate nursing and medical care for their unique individual needs and are equipped to manage medically fragile students including students with complex medical conditions. Our Health & Wellness team also works diligently to make sure that all of our students are able to see local specialists sensitive to our student population and provide transportation and support for all off-campus appointments. We are dedicated to the health and safety of every resident at Shrub Oak that goes well beyond the call of a traditional school nursing department.


All Shrub Oak students have an opportunity to participate in the rich and varied experiences that constitute the Shrub Oak campus experience. Activities are designed to stimulate students’ interests and expand their life skills. On campus, we’ve designed activities for children with autism with a holistic approach to their emotional and physical health.

Recreational programs include art, music, hiking, biking, yoga, horticulture, farming, animal therapy, and more. Weekends are filled with off-campus outings to town, the trampoline park, bowling alley, outdoor markets, parks and a wealth of other experiences that build familiarity and comfort with the wider world.

Activities are integrated into each student’s personally-designed transdisciplinary curriculum developed with a team of educators, clinicians, and campus life staff along with the student and caregivers. This individualized approach supports each student’s developmental goals and needs, while incorporating personal interests and fun into the design of their experience at Shrub Oak.

Therapeutic Horsemanship Program

Shrub Oak is proud to partner with Sky Blue Equestrian Center to provide our students with equine therapy.

What is Therapeutic Horsemanship?

Therapeutic horsemanship involves various activities with horses, such as grooming, leading, and feeding. These activities help build a bond and develop a relationship with the horse. This approach can be especially beneficial for autistic individuals, providing a safe and supportive environment for interaction and learning.

Emotional and Psychological Benefits

  1. Building Trust and Confidence: Working with horses requires patience, consistency, and clear communication. Autistic individuals can develop trust and gain confidence through these interactions, both in themselves and in their ability to connect with others.
  2. Enhancing Emotional Regulation: Horses are incredibly intuitive and respond to human emotions and behaviors. This feedback helps autistic individuals become more aware of their own emotional states and develop better regulation and coping mechanisms, which are crucial for managing daily challenges.
  3. Reducing Anxiety and Stress: The calming presence of horses and the rhythmic nature of activities like grooming can significantly reduce anxiety and stress levels. For many autistic individuals, spending time in nature and engaging in mindful activities with the horses promotes a sense of peace and well-being.


Social and Interpersonal Benefits

  1. Improving Communication Skills: Non-verbal communication is key when working with horses. Autistic individuals learn to observe and interpret the horses’ body language, enhancing their ability to understand and respond to non-verbal cues in human interactions as well. This skill is particularly valuable for those who may struggle with verbal communication.
  2. Fostering Teamwork and Cooperation: Many activities in the program are designed to be done in pairs or groups, encouraging teamwork and cooperation. Autistic individuals learn to work together, support each other, and develop a sense of community, which can help reduce feelings of isolation.
  3. Developing Empathy and Compassion: Caring for another living being helps autistic individuals cultivate empathy and compassion. The reciprocal nature of the human-horse relationship allows participants to experience the impact of their actions on another being, fostering a deeper understanding of social interactions.


Physical and Sensory Benefits

  1. Enhancing Fine and Gross Motor Skills: Activities like grooming, leading, and riding horses require coordination and physical effort, which can help improve both fine and gross motor skills. This is particularly beneficial for autistic individuals who may have motor skill challenges.
  2. Providing Sensory Stimulation: The sights, sounds, and smells of the equestrian environment provide rich sensory input. This can be particularly beneficial for autistic individuals with sensory processing challenges, helping them become more comfortable and adaptive in various sensory environments.
  3. Encouraging Physical Activity: Activities involving horses still require significant movement and exercise, promoting overall physical health and wellness. This is essential for autistic individuals who may benefit from structured and enjoyable physical activities.


Therapeutic horsemanship offers a wealth of benefits that extend far beyond the barn. By fostering trust, confidence, emotional regulation, and physical well-being, this program empowers our students to discover their strengths and build meaningful, positive relationships. The structured, yet flexible nature of the program also is ideal for meeting their diverse needs.

The Shrub Oak Farm Program

The farm program at Shrub Oak is a special one. The students not only enjoy being outdoors, but they learn important skills while participating in farm activities. Hands-on learning allows students to apply what they have learned in the classroom, to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and to practice important social skills. The farm also represents Shrub Oak’s transdisciplinary approach at its very best. If you’ve toured campus, you have probably heard us reference an example of this. One beautiful morning, two students were planting side by side. They were with our farmer and one of our math teachers who was teaching them about measurement. But the two students weren’t communicating with each other. When their teacher observed this, she radioed one of our speech therapists who immediately found her way to the garden to facilitate communication. Watching the two students subsequently engage with one another was an unforgettable moment.

Students learn a lot about horticulture at Shrub Oak: from germinating their first seed all the way to enjoying the wonderful vegetables it will bear. They also learn a lot about life. As all avid gardeners will attest, it’s truly a rewarding experience. It teaches that hard work, careful attention, and patience can develop into something extraordinarily gratifying. Our students also learn practical lessons with transferable job skills by working on the farm. For example, our students operate Shrub Oak’s Little Oak Farmstand, bringing farm fresh produce to our very own market, and learning about marketing, sales, and customer service in the process.

We also have host of animals on our farm including a miniature horse, donkey, pigs, goats, rabbits, chickens, and ducks. Students deeply enjoy just spending time with our animals, reaping many therapeutic benefits. Our clinicians collaborate closely with our farmers to identify appropriate farm-related activities for students to participate in, a sampling of which is below:

  • Shaking out the straw flakes in Oscar’s enclosure; Oscar is our potbellied pig!
  • Using the hose to create a muddy area; pigs love to take mud baths!
  • Grooming Tater and Tot, our donkey and pony.
  • Taking Tater for walks, being careful not to touch his ears.
  • Creating enrichment toys for our goats; Daisy is the friendliest.
  • Feeding veggies to Hazel and Spunky, our rabbits.
  • Collecting eggs from our chickens and ducks; Cheese and Quackers are two student favorites!

Another fun aspect of our farm program is watching the students put their creativity to work. Our amazing Director of Agriculture, Samantha, always incorporates fun activities so it’s not just weeding or feeding chickens. Students paint landscapes, make their own birdfeeders, create their own bouquets from our beautiful flowers, make benches for the garden out of recycled pallets, as well as many other hands-on crafts. Sam has even found materials for students to build their own tents out of branches where they can take time away and just enjoy the peaceful noises of the garden.

And maybe that’s a little bit of what singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell had in mind when she wrote the lyrics to Woodstock: “. . .and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden. . .I don’t know who I am but you know life is for learning.” For certain, Shrub Oak students are always happy to “get back to the garden,” where they not only find peace and experience joy, but learn about horticulture, themselves, and the world around them.

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