The iHope academic curriculum is designed to promote student growth and independence. The curriculum focuses on helping students find effective ways to communicate and function in the iHope community while making connections to enhance their everyday life experiences in the home and larger community. The school specializes in working with and educating children with non-verbal learning challenges and multiple disabilities. Academic instruction is provided by using a multi-sensory approach and is integrated with therapeutic services to allow for children to have more “hands-on “experiences.
Students engage in learning activities, which integrates all content areas, and instruction is differentiated and individualized to meet the specific needs of each student. Students use their strengths to engage in activities designed to increase their communication, social, and life skills. Art, music and technology plays an integral role in helping the students to express themselves and share their feelings.
The practice of occupational therapy means the therapeutic use of occupations, including everyday life activities with individuals, groups, populations, or organizations to support participation, performance, and function in roles and situations in home, school, workplace, community, and other settings. Occupational therapy services are provided for habilitation, rehabilitation, and the promotion of health and wellness to those who have or are at risk for developing an illness, injury, disease, disorder, condition, impairment, disability, activity limitation, or participation restriction. Occupational therapy addresses the physical, cognitive, psychosocial, sensory-perceptual, and other aspects of performance in a variety of contexts and environments to support engagement in occupations that affect physical and mental health, well-being, and quality of life. (American Occupational Therapy Association)
The Goal of Occupational Therapy at iHope is to look at everything—the whole living experience from the eyes of the person, the families, the friends and the whole community—and enhance meaning in participation while modifying, compensating or training the person and those around them methods and procedures, that may or may not include assistive or adaptive devices, so they can function as independently as possible in their environment.
iHope’s Physical Therapy Department specializes in individualized treatment programs to improve function, assist with equipment and orthotic management in order to prevent regression of contractures and relieve physical deformity of children with brain injury. At iHope, we provide outcome based implementation to give ongoing feedback to parents and health providers regarding our children’s progress. Physical therapy services will address neuromuscular, orthopedic challenges and related manifestations that radiate from underlying acquired brain injury and other brain based disorders. iHope provides a safe and interactive rehabilitation experience in order to address ongoing challenges that our children face in the home and community. Our goal is to ultimately provide the resources to improve socialization, functional integration and quality of life of the children we serve.
Speech and Language Therapy
Speech therapy sessions will focus on the communication act – the exchange of ideas, information, feelings, or questions between communication partners. These elements determine which communication tools are best for your child. Therefore a variety of communication systems are used.
AAC Systems at iHope
For non-verbal students, iHope uses unaided, low-tech and high tech communications systems. Unaided communication systems include partner-assisted communication; verbally given choices from a partner and an established yes/no response from the student. Aided communication includes low-tech and high-tech systems. Low-tech communication systems utilize Mayor-Johnson picture symbols and can be formatted in a variety of ways and utilize the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). Low –tech systems include e-tran, a vertical held communication board utilizing eye gaze; communication charts and books, one page or multiple pages of symbols arranged by topic; and talking mats, a mat that allows symbols to be attached and rearranged. High-tech communication refers to dedicated devices and computers adapted to be speech-generating devices. These devices range from 1 switch speech generating devices to touch-screen computerized speech-generating devices.
The choice of an AAC will depend upon:
• The context
• The relationship of the participants (teacher/therapist -student, student-student)
• The content of the communication
• All the emotions present in the interaction
Vision Education Services
The Vision Education program at iHOPE provides students with individualized sessions that focus on developing each student’s visual processing abilities. Most of the students at iHOPE that are receiving Vision Services have a visual impairment due to brain injury. They may also have other eye conditions as well. The Vision Education Program is highly individualized and is based on individualized assessments which then guide the modifications and interventions that are utilized for each student. Visual modifications and interventions are implemented throughout the student’s day in order to continuously develop the visual pathways and processing systems in the brain.
The vision department provides ongoing training for all staff and paraprofessionals regarding the nature of Cortical Visual Impairment, the assessment process and the process involved in implementing modifications and interventions. It is essential for visual modifications to be incorporated into other therapies and educational settings. Vision educators meet with other staff members regularly to discuss these elements of each student’s program. The Vision Program actively collaborates with many organizations in the New York area including SUNY College of Optometry and the New York Deaf-Blind Collaborative.
Conductive Education uses a psycho-educational approach that focuses primarily on the integration of the brain’s ability to change and learn (neuroplasticity), the child’s personality and lifestyle, and physiological and medical characteristics. Conductive Education approaches physical disabilities from an educational rather than a medical or paramedical perspective. The approach focuses on improving the physical effects of the disability while encouraging motivation and active physical participation, to become independent and increase self-esteem. The Key Elements of Conductive Education include Conductor Education Teacher (Conductor), CE Program, Task series, Daily Routine, Rhythmical intention, Group setting, Facilitatation, CE Furniture and Equipment. This intensive, multi-disciplinary holistic approach to education is designed for individuals with cerebral palsy, brain injury, spina bifida and other motor challenges. It is based on Professor Andras Peto’s theory that motor control can be learned through an active movement. The desired outcome is to internalize the intended movement and achieve maximal independence called orthofunction.