Tuesday, 24 January 2012
It is school week for me! I had the honor of being invited to tour and meet the students at Rebecca School, which is one of the MetSchools in NYC. A little bit about this school from their website...
"Rebecca School is a therapeutic day school for children ages 4 to 21, promoting the education and development of children with neurodevelopmental disorders of relating and communicating, including PDD and autism. We utilize the Developmental Individual Differences Relationship-based (DIR®) model. The DIR® Methodology developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan proceeds from the core belief that relationships are the foundation of learning. At Rebecca School, we consider the variations in individual motor and sensory processing systems and tailor each child’s program to his or her specific needs. There is no “one-size-fits-all” for children with neurodevelopmental delays in relating and communicating. Each child has unique strengths to be developed and limitations to be remediated. Our goal is not to fit the child to the program but to fit the program to the child."
As you know, I visited Celebrate The Children two days ago which also follows this same DIR® model. Since studying ABA in 2007, it was quite an interesting experience for me to see schools that practice a different model other than ABA. I am always interested in learning about treatment options, and seeing what works and what doesn't, so this was like a crash course in the DIR model. I think it is really important to see both ABA & DIR models in action, especially if you're looking for a school for your child. ABA and DIR are very different, and I think there are several pros and cons to both...that's another blog for another time! For now, to learn more check out http://www.rebeccaschool.org
I arrived at the school at 10am and was greeted by a few of the staff members to bring me on a tour and meet the students. It is located right in the heart of New York City, and is five floors and 60,000 square feet! I noticed some of the same things I noticed at CTC- plenty of staff (all engaged with the students) and tons of smiling faces. Each classroom has sensory equipment like trampolines, mats, and big beanbag chairs. The DIR model really focuses on relationship building and giving respect to the students, which was very evident here. This school offers quite a bit to the students, including an awesome playground- ON THE ROOF! Two classes were swimming at a local YMCA (how fun!), one class was playing in quite a large gym which included a rock wall, hockey nets, scooters and more! Another class was having a dance party (which was adorable), and other classes were learning and just enjoying each other's company. Rebecca School has a fabulous art and ceramics room complete with lots of clay and a kiln which the kids love. They also have two sensory gyms full of the coolest equipment- giant swings, tons of mats, and lots of things to play and climb on! In the hallways you will find kids laughing as they crawl through popup tunnels. They have outstanding music therapists who work hard to help children engage in conversations through music. The older kids go out and shop for their own groceries for the week- they make a list, figure out the money need, and take a trip to the store with the help of teachers. Amazing!
On the wall of each classroom you will find each child's name, and pictures of what interests them underneath. I noticed both CTC and Rebecca School did this, which is part of the DIR model- to figure out what the child TRULY enjoys and then help them learn more about it. That's what life should be about, right? Doing what you love and learning more about it. Both schools take the time to figure this out, another example of the respect they have for each student- and treating them as individuals. Every Friday the students are dismissed early so the staff can have ongoing group training on a variety of topics. It is so nice to see a school want to constantly learn more and provide their staff with such valuable knowledge!
I had such a great time visiting Rebecca School, and I encourage all of you to go to their site to learn more. They also have a daily open-door policy..so if you want to visit your child for lunch, you can! Want to sit in on a class? No problem! WHENEVER you want! Some parents who work in NYC come to spend their lunch breaks with their child..I love hearing things like that! Thank you Rebecca School for inviting me into your fabulous facility, and letting me meet your wonderful students. Another day I will never forget!