Children with Complex and Multiple Disabilities



The current best practice for treating children with complex developmental disabilities must include screening for, and treating, medical problems as well as incorporating technology to assist children in accessing their learning environments.  Technology includes augmentative communication devices, mobility equipment, and supportive functional skill technology.  Technology that is not commercially available, but necessary to help an individual child, often times can be designed and fabricated on site with a team of engineers and clinicians in The Center’s Maker’s Lab located on Main Street Hurleyville.

At The Center for Discovery each child undergoes careful assessment from an integrated team of professionals including a physician, registered dietician, doctoral or master level special educators, physical, occupation, speech and behavioral therapists and other clinicians as needed.  Each team member contributes to the child’s program as they work closely together to ensure that all needs of the child are being met.

Many of the children in the program have complex co-occurring conditions that may include seizure disorders, sleep and eating problems, gastrointestinal problems such as gastroesophageal reflux disorder and constipation, respiratory problems such as reactive airway disease, cerebral palsy and other rare conditions.  The team works closely with the parent to prioritize the child’s needs and create goals that are aimed at helping the child progress in a healthy and sustainable way.

The Program Strategies

We aim to treat the whole child with evidence-based methods.  Commonly used components of our best-practice program that support the child in the learning environment include positive behavioral intervention supports (PBIS), naturalistic teaching strategies that teach skills in context, mobility programs that encourage independent mobility, daily schedules and environmental organization strategies, functional communication training, story-based interventions, emotional self-regulation teaching using a variety of strategies, scripting and journaling.

Diet is an important factor in the treatment of a child with complex problems.  Our dietary strategy is centered on a whole-foods (non-processed) organic diet that excludes as many ingestible toxic substances as possible.  Children with medical fragility need proper nourishment in order to function well on a daily basis.  The Center grows most its own produce and meats to ensure the highest quality foods for the individuals in the program.  The community participates in the farming program through the Community Supportive Agriculture program.

All children have daily access to the serene outdoor environments that are thoughtfully designed to reduce stress and promote health and happiness.  There are more than 1500 acres of land and over 5 miles of paved walkways for children to engage in social and mobility-based activities.

Each child also partakes in a vigorous/moderate exercise program to increase their ability to attend and engage in the learning environment.  The exercise programs are adapted as necessary for each child, but movement is a major part of each child’s day as it stimulates the brain to attend and also promotes health in the body.

Sleep, which is very important for each child, is enhanced by quality food, orderly and structured environments, fresh clean air, and vigorous exercise programs, all of which help to establish natural circadian rhythms.  These components implemented together can reduce chronic stress and promote healing in the child aided by better sleep.

The Discovery Curriculum[HC2]  is aligned with the Common Core Standards [HC3] and is both developmental and functionally-based.  Each program is highly individualized, structured and guided by data that is aggregated on an on-going basis.  The program is result[HC4] oriented.  If a child is not progressing, the team will meet to conduct a review of the program, and amend the program as necessary.


 [HC2]Discovery Curriculum

 [HC3]Common Core Learning Standards