Many factors distinguish the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School, affectionately called the O-School. Perhaps the most important is the O-School’s complete and accepting atmosphere, signified by the Yellow Door and the attention that’s been given to every detail once inside.
An Immersive Approach to Care
Care at the O-School is based on milieu treatment. This means that therapy does not take place simply in a formal session; therapy takes place in every interaction and decision. Every part of a student's day is given considerable thought, and members of the treatment team — including teachers, therapists, counselors, and case managers — work cohesively to create a consistent, meaningful and successful experience for students throughout the day. Learn More
A Fully Individualized Experience for Every Student
At the O-School, the uniqueness of each child is celebrated. Therapeutic plans and educational paths are tailored to meet students where they are in their journeys, and the O-School's therapeutic technique is grounded in taking a genuine interest in the needs and thoughts of every student "in the moment."
The deep feeling of acceptance experienced at the O-School can change the way you feel about yourself, and your life.– Former O-School Student
After two years of help and encouragement at the O-School, our son is a totally different young man.
– O-School Parent
Highly Skilled and Committed Staff
The O-School surrounds each student with a highly educated, trained and committed team of therapeutic and education experts. Staff members take time to build strong relationships with the students, and these bonds act as the basis for emotional support and therapeutic interventions when needed. Learn More
Supportive, Nurturing Atmosphere
The O-School’s culture is characterized by respect and acceptance without judgment. Attending the O-School puts an end to the isolation and bullying experienced by so many children. Students quickly understand that they are now somewhere very different. Here, they can be themselves. And here, they can build mutually supportive relationships that help sustain their success in school and life.
Strong Academic Program in a Therapeutic Atmosphere
The O-School's curriculum meets or exceeds public school requirements, and each student’s individual learning style is reflected in highly prescriptive education plans. Students emerge fully prepared to transition back to their home schools, meet graduation requirements, and continue their education, including college. Also, similar to more traditional schools, many skill-building opportunities are available outside the classroom, including a full range of co-curricular activities. Learn More
Students know we care about understanding their worlds and perceptions. With that support, they can develop connections and invite others into their worlds. Then, they can risk stepping out of it themselves.
– Diana Kon, Ed.D., Executive Director
A Campus with Character in an Urban Setting
The O-School’s urban setting allows it to uniquely integrate city life into its programs. From taking Chicago’s famous elevated trains to exploring the city’s many neighborhoods, the O-School’s location offers numerous opportunities for students to enjoy guided outings that introduce them to new social, cultural, sporting and educational experiences throughout the Chicagoland area.
A History of Proven Success
For more than 75 years, students attending the O-School have consistently worked to close the gap between themselves and their peers. As a result of the O-School's support, students have broken the cycle of repeated hospitalizations and prepared themselves to successfully transition to their home schools or colleges. In fact, based on a recent long-term outcome study, 91% of O-School students finish high school and 55% pursue higher education. These results not only outperform national averages for students in special education programs, they are also higher than the national averages for all students. Learn More