Our therapeutic day school serves students from surrounding Chicagoland counties and public school districts who are in need of alternative school programming which is supportive, therapeutic and educational. Our program provides alternative educational and therapeutic supports to children, adolescents and young adults ages 6-22 who struggle with emotional, behavioral, academic, and developmental needs requiring an alternative academic environment to promote success.
Due to the nature of the students’ needs, a full array of related services are available as needed within the school day including Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Substance Abuse Counseling, Transition Counselor support, Psychiatric and Psychological Consultation.
Each student is assigned an individual primary therapist who delivers individual therapy weekly and provides case management and crisis management and support as needed throughout the day. Primary therapists also support family therapy and regular communication with families about the student’s progress. Students also participate in group therapy weekly, which takes place in the classroom setting along side similar aged peers. The primary therapists have routine consultation and training to build their expertise with a wide variety of issues related to the concerns students may experience with an emphasis on incorporating the family in the student’s treatment and progress. This requires that parents/families be available for regular family therapy contact with the NCA therapist. Therapists are available during the school day to accommodate student and family needs.
The therapists also support Extended Day services at NCA, which provides extended services to specific students that may require additional and extended care past the typical school day hours. Additionally, therapists support monthly Family Night activities.
The staff within the Diagnostic and IAES programs believes that all students can learn and be successful. Through the development of supportive and nurturing relationships, our staff enables students to make academic progress and learn the skills necessary to succeed. A primary goal is to allow students to understand their own behavior - how it affects their interpersonal relationships, and opportunities for success. Students are encouraged to learn new, more appropriate ways of interacting in order to get their needs met. With guidance from faculty, students focus on and evaluate their behaviors as being supportive, or non-supportive, or their desired outcomes. Problems that may arise during classroom activities are seen as opportunities for growth and learning. Our staff utilizes a cognitive/behavioral and narrative problem solving approach to help students identify the challenge and practice more successful behavioral alternatives. While students may experience the logical consequences to problematic behavior, the approach is always positive and non-punitive. We do not encourage the use of isolation, physical restraint or other aversive interventions unless needed to ensure the safety of the student and school milieu. Instead, we utilize effective social skill building and creative behavior modification techniques designed to help each student develop strategies to improve his/her educational performance.
The behavior management policies of the Diagnostic and IAES programs are highly individualized, using both anticipated and actual behavior problems as positive teaching opportunities. A consistent cognitive restructuring is used to help the student learn the skills and behaviors necessary to succeed in the school environment. When problematic behaviors arise during the school day, our staff will work with the student in identifying alternative ways in which the situation could have been handled. At times, students may persist in disruptive and/or disturbing behaviors. When this occurs, staff will make every effort to remove the immediate stressor from the situation. If a student is deemed to be a possible threat to his/her own safety, or the safety of others, therapeutic holding and restraint may be necessary to ensure the safety of all involved. Our staff is fully trained in the Crisis Prevention Institute guidelines of such intervention.