The Center is committed to meeting the educational needs of each and every child in its care. This is achieved by thoughtful and individually tailored programs, the involvement of families, and the integration of The Center’s state-of-the-art medical services.
The pediatric program serves both active and multiply disabled young people 5 - 21 years old, including over one hundred day students and school-aged children from outside The Center for whom there is no comparable program.
The education program has one track for ambulatory and autistic young people; another for those with significant physical disabilities. Parents remain actively involved in the design of their child’s program as it evolves along with the child. A team made up of a certified special educator and two and a half para-professionals leads each class, and a class size of six or fewer children ensures that each child receives the individual attention they need.
A caring and attentive team of experts safeguards the health and safety of the young people in the program. Full-time nurses are available to administer medications and to respond to medical emergencies.
SENSITIVE Teaching Model
We don’t merely believe that almost everyone is capable of learning: we prove it every day.
Rigid educational approaches are spectacularly unsuccessful when applied to children with autism, leading to frustration and failure in the classroom and heartbreak for families.
A common sense educational approach is succeeding here.
It is based on understanding the individual child, removing obstacles to learning, promoting health and self-regulation and involving the family.
The Center has developed a comprehensive model based on current research that is responsive to each child’s needs. It acknowledges autism as an interaction disorder, incorporates a healthy diet and physical activity and is based on proven educational techniques.
While the model will continue to be evolve, it is already increasing academic skills and helping children improve their ability to self-regulate, to communicate and interact with others and to bring skills acquired in the classroom to their everyday lives.
The core components:
- Social Interaction
- Environmental Interaction
- Nutritional and Health
- Structured Approach to Teaching
- Independence in Interactions
- Total Communication
- Integrated Services
- Vigorous Exercise and Physical Well-being
- Evidence based outcomes
Families play an important role in designing their child’s program. Parents and siblings go beyond being informants to being co-creators, working with a talented, expert staff to craft a unique program that draws from a variety of therapies and resources.
Nature Based Curriculum
The goal of nature based learning is to help residents see themselves as part of larger world, an experience that is constantly reinforced and enriched through the changing seasons. Nature is incorporated into an educational approach that takes advantage of the numerous opportunities the setting affords for active learning and personal development. Appreciating natural beauty and encouraging sensory experience are worthy goals, but the over-arching goal is an awareness of the interdependence of all living things.
To learn more about how this curriculum is brought to life in different contexts within the community, go to:
The Michael Ritchie Big Barn Center for
Environmental Health and Education