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Melvin J. Larson Therapeutic Day School

At our Therapeutic Day School, we are committed to providing a supportive and nurturing environment for students with diverse learning needs. 

Our curriculum and programming is designed to meet the individual needs of each student, offering personalized academic instruction, social skills development, and therapeutic support. Our highly trained staff includes special education teachers, physical therapists, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, and paraprofessionals who work together to create a comprehensive and collaborative approach to education. Our classrooms offer integrated therapies, small class sizes, high staff to student ratios, and individualized programming tailored to meet the instructional needs of each student.

We believe in the importance of creating a positive and inclusive learning environment where students feel safe, supported, and valued. Our goal is to empower our students to reach their full potential and achieve academic success. Through a combination of evidence-based practices, innovative teaching methods, and individualized support, we address the unique strengths and challenges of each student to help them succeed in school and beyond.

Our Therapeutic Day School is here to help. We welcome students from diverse backgrounds and abilities and are dedicated to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in everything we do.

We look forward to working with you and your family to help your child thrive! Contact Jennifer Grau at for more information and to schedule a tour.

Curriculum and Activities

Our Curriculum is designed to align with age and grade-appropriate academic instructional activities, as well as the Illinois Learning Standards and Common Core Career and College Readiness Standards. We offer a variety of resources and programs, including Unique Curriculum, News-2-You, and more. We also incorporate functional academics, life skills, vocational training, and supported or independent employment opportunities. Classroom placement is tailored to meet the individual age and instructional needs of each student.

Community Based Instruction (CBI) is a vital component of our curriculum, providing opportunities for our students to acquire real-world skills and practice independence in their local community. Through hands-on experiences, students engage in meaningful activities that foster social interactions, communication, and personal growth outside of the traditional classroom setting. With CBI, we focus on employment readiness and career development, recreation/leisure skills development, transportation and community mobility, communication and social skills development, and independent living skills development.


Speech-Language Pathology

Our team of highly trained and experienced speech-language pathologists work closely with students to assess and provide school based speech therapy to our students. We use a total communication approach, incorporating augmentative communication devices, sign language, visual cues, gestures, and more to enhance learning opportunities.

Our SLP services include:

  • Speech and Language Assessments
    Our SLP’s conduct thorough evaluations to assess each student's speech and language skills, including articulation, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), fluency, voice, receptive and expressive language, and pragmatics. These assessments help us develop targeted intervention plans to address areas of need.
  • Individualized Therapy
    Based on the results of assessments and collaboration with the team, our SLPs create individualized therapy plans to target specific communication goals. Therapy sessions are structured to be engaging, fun, and tailored to each student's learning style. When appropriate, our SLP’s integrate speech therapy directly into the classroom setting, providing individualized support and fostering communication skills for our students in the classroom.
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
    For students who have difficulty with verbal communication, our SLPs are trained in a variety of AAC systems (including: tablets, communication applications, TouchChat, Proloquo2go, Novachat, picture symbols, line drawings, verbal output switch, objects, ASL, etc.) to help students express themselves effectively. We provide training and support for students, teachers, and families to ensure successful communication using AAC devices and strategies.
  • Social communication skills
    Our SLPs work with students to develop social communication skills, such as turn-taking, topic maintenance, and understanding non-verbal cues. We also offer group therapy sessions to practice these skills in a supportive environment.
  • Collaboration and consultation
    Our SLPs collaborate with teachers, parents, and other professionals to support each student's communication needs across all settings. We provide training and recommendations to ensure consistent support for students both at school and at home.

We are dedicated to providing high-quality SLP services that empower our students to communicate effectively, build relationships, and participate fully in all aspects of school and community life.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy at our school focuses on helping students develop the skills needed to participate fully in daily activities and reach their academic, social, and emotional goals. Our Occupational Therapists work collaboratively with teachers, parents, and other professionals to address each student's unique needs and design individualized intervention plans.

Some of the key components of our Occupational Therapy services include:

  • Fine motor skills development
    Our Occupational Therapists work with students to improve hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and precision in activities such as writing, drawing, and using scissors. These skills are essential for successful participation in school tasks and everyday activities.
  • Self-care skills training
    Our therapists help students develop independence in basic self-care tasks such as dressing, feeding, and personal hygiene. By promoting autonomy in these areas, we empower students to build essential life skills.
  • Sensory integration therapy
    Students may have difficulties processing sensory information, leading to challenges in regulating their responses to stimuli. Our Occupational Therapists use sensory integration techniques to help students develop coping strategies and improve their ability to engage with their environment.
  • Assistive technology support
    Our Occupational Therapy team evaluates students' abilities to use technology and recommends assistive devices or software to enhance their access to educational resources and improve communication skills.
  • Environmental modifications
    Our therapists assess the school environment to ensure it is conducive to the learning and development of students. They may recommend modifications such as adaptive seating, visual schedules, or sensory-friendly spaces to create a conducive learning environment for all students.

Overall, our Occupational Therapy services are an integral part of our comprehensive approach to supporting students at our therapeutic day school. Through individualized interventions, collaboration with the school team, and ongoing support, we aim to help each student develop the skills and confidence needed to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.

Physical Therapy

Our physical therapy program is designed to help students improve their motor skills, strength, endurance, and overall physical health.  Our experienced physical therapist is a member of the IEP and they work closely with each student and to create individualized treatment plans that address their unique needs and goals. Whether a student requires assistance with mobility, balance, coordination, or pain management, our physical therapy services are tailored to meet their specific needs.

Our physical therapy services may include:

  • Assessment and evaluation of physical abilities
  • Development of personalized treatment plans
  • Therapeutic exercises to improve strength and flexibility
  • Gait training and mobility assistance
  • Adaptive equipment and assistive technology recommendations

By utilizing evidence-based practices and innovative techniques, our physical therapy services aim to enhance our students' education and foster independence.

Enrollment Information

We offer a comprehensive educational and therapeutic environment for children and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities whose needs cannot be met at their home school district. UCP-Center for Disability Services' Melvin J. Larson School is approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to serve students ages 3 through 22 who meet the following requirements:

The student's Individualized Educational Program (IEP) explicitly identifies a “Private Therapeutic Day Placement” as the least restrictive environment to meet the child’s needs.

The student has an educational diagnosis of Autism, Developmental Delay, Intellectual Disability, Multiple Disabilities, Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health Impairment, and Traumatic Brain Injury.

When a student meets these criteria, the home school district may refer the student to our school.

For student enrollment, please contact Jennifer Grau - Director of School Services at or (815) 744-3500. Our dedicated team will work closely with you and your child's IEP team to ensure a smooth and successful transition to our school. We look forward to providing your student with the personalized care and education they deserve at UCP-Center for Disability Services' Melvin J Larson School.

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