School Age Programs

The school age program serves students ages 5-21 years old with disabilities such as autism and multiple disabilities. Students with similar social, educational, and behavioral needs are grouped in classrooms with a student to teacher ratio of 6:1:2, which is two students for every staff member. Each student has an educational program designed to meet their needs; established through a combination of criterion referenced assessment and IEP goals. Long-term objectives are taught through a series of task-analyzed short-term objectives called individual student “programs.” Programs are taught in both the 1:1 and group setting with individualized instruction provided throughout the day. Continuous measurement is a key component of our model and student progress is graphed daily. Students receive instruction in all academic areas with time allotted weekly for art, music, adaptive physical education, and related services (speech, OT, and PT). Curriculum is derived from research and published curricula shown to be effective in teaching young children with disabilities. Nationally Board Certified Behavior Analysts provide close supervision and ongoing training to our teachers, assistants, and related professionals.


Research has demonstrated that more effective time management in the classroom directly relates to student success. Therefore, each teacher schedules their day in ways to minimize "down time" and maximize learning opportunities. Classrooms follow a daily schedule generated by the teacher. Time is allotted for circle time, 1:1 Instruction, (which may be broken down specifically into Verbal Behavior instruction and academic programs), lunch, gym, and group instruction. Related services (speech, OT, PT) are "push-in" when group is recommended and "Pull-out" when 1:1 services are recommended.


Curriculum and instruction at HCDS is criterion referenced. Students are assessed using a criterion-referenced assessment upon entering the school. Based on these results and goals recommended on the IEP, a program list is developed to meet the students' needs. Each student has a portfolio in which all of his or her programs and program graphs are kept. Examples of individual programs include pre-requisites skills such as eye contact, gross motor imitation, vocal-verbal imitation, and following directions, academic and pre-academic skills such as sight words, counting, phonics, colors, shapes and answering questions. Social skills focus on greetings, transitioning, sharing and cooperative play. Expanding a students community of reinforcers includes teaching students to enjoy an ever widening range of activities such as toy play, socializing, and looking at books.


A major portion of the curriculum at the HCDS is the teaching of Verbal Behavior through research based methods shown to be effective to teach language. Two examples of curricula used are Teaching Operations for Verbal Behavior (Williams and Greer, 1989) and Teaching Language to Children with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities (Sundberg and Partington, 1998). One of the best tools we can give our students is the ability to communicate their wants and needs, whether through words, pictures or signs. All of our teachers are trained in verbal behavior teaching methods through both workshops and direct observations (1:1 training) by supervisors.


All programs are task analyzed taught in steps to increase the likelihood that students will learn quickly and accurately. The continuous measurement of student progress allows teachers to closely monitor student progress. Student responses to instruction (i.e., "the data") are graphed each day and teachers are trained to make timely decisions and interventions based on the analysis of these graphs. Through various measures we are able to ensure that our decisions are made efficiently (timely) and effectively (based on research and functional for the student).


For more information about the School Age Program, please contact

Ann Marie Babcock, Director of Admissions

914-592-8526, ext. 3165