Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School

Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School

Ask a question about 'Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School'
Start a new discussion about 'Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
The Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School, also known simply as the Orthogenic School or informally as the O'School, is a residential treatment center
Residential treatment center
A residential treatment center , sometimes called a rehab, is a live-in health care facility providing therapy for substance abuse, mental illness, or other behavioral problems...

 and therapeutic school for children and adolescents typically classified as emotionally disturbed or as having a socio-emotional disorder. The Orthogenic School specializes in the treatment of youth who have failed in other treatment settings. The school is located on the campus of and is affiliated with the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...



The school is able to adequately educate students of above-average intelligence and assist students in pursuing advanced courses on an individual or group basis. Students may also attend local universities or private and public schools on a part-time basis. Currently the school is able to treat students in an unlocked setting without utilizing seclusion
The act of secluding, i.e. shutting out or keeping apart from society, or the state of being secluded, or a place that facilitates it . A person, a couple, or a larger group may go to a secluded place for privacy, or because the place is quiet...

 or medical restraint. Dorm counselors
- Medicine and social work :* A counsel* Camp counselor** Counselor-in-Training, training program for camp counselors* Lay Community Counsellor* Licensed Professional Counselor* Mental Health Counselor* Navy Counselor in the United States Navy...

, teacher
A teacher or schoolteacher is a person who provides education for pupils and students . The role of teacher is often formal and ongoing, carried out at a school or other place of formal education. In many countries, a person who wishes to become a teacher must first obtain specified professional...

s, and teaching assistants typically have a bachelor's degree and experience in working with young people. Typically the staff to student ratio is very high, with an average of two staff members supervising 5 to 8 students at a time, with support of masters-level staff, educational staff, and crisis intervention staff.

While at school the students have contact with a staff of therapists, program managers, special education teachers
Special education
Special education is the education of students with special needs in a way that addresses the students' individual differences and needs. Ideally, this process involves the individually planned and systematically monitored arrangement of teaching procedures, adapted equipment and materials,...

, art teachers
Art education
Art education is the area of learning that is based upon the visual, tangible arts—drawing, painting, sculpture, and design in jewelry, pottery, weaving, fabrics, etc. and design applied to more practical fields such as commercial graphics and home furnishings...

, teaching assistants, and other professionals. Students with appropriate privileges have the opportunity of going out into the community several days a week, with some students able to leave the school on independent outings into the community.

The school has developed a comprehensive transition program for adolescent students leaving for home
A home is a place of residence or refuge. When it refers to a building, it is usually a place in which an individual or a family can rest and store personal property. Most modern-day households contain sanitary facilities and a means of preparing food. Animals have their own homes as well, either...

, college
A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of an educational institution. Usage varies in English-speaking nations...

, or independent living. Students in the Transitional Living Center have the support of the school staff, their old dorm staff, and the transitional living staff. They are typically able to go into the community and pursue employment
Employment is a contract between two parties, one being the employer and the other being the employee. An employee may be defined as:- Employee :...

, educational options, and other community activities. Students stay in the transitional program for periods ranging from several months to two years.

The school is affiliated with the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 and is located on the campus. Because of this, students are able to utilize many campus facilities during the day.

The school also has several extracurricular programs
Extracurricular activity
Extracurricular activities are activities performed by students that fall outside the realm of the normal curriculum of school or university education...

, including a student work program, student government, a local Junior Achievement
Junior Achievement
Junior Achievement or JA or JA Worldwide is a non-profit youth organization that was founded in 1919 by Horace A. Moses, Theodore Vail, and senator Winthrop M. Crane. JA focuses on educating kids in K-12 about the free enterprise system...

 charter, a literary magazine
Literary magazine
A literary magazine is a periodical devoted to literature in a broad sense. Literary magazines usually publish short stories, poetry and essays along with literary criticism, book reviews, biographical profiles of authors, interviews and letters...

 and a student newspaper
Student newspaper
A student newspaper is a newspaper run by students of a university, high school, middle school, or other school. These papers traditionally cover local and, primarily, school or university news....

. Students can participate in as many extracurricular activities as they like, so long as their behavior and academic performance are within acceptable boundaries.

Parental Contact

Students attend periodic family sessions
Family therapy
Family therapy, also referred to as couple and family therapy, family systems therapy, and family counseling, is a branch of psychotherapy that works with families and couples in intimate relationships to nurture change and development. It tends to view change in terms of the systems of...

 with their program manager or individual therapist. The dorm counselors regularly contact parents and update them on their child's progress, and students are able to call home at least once a week and can write as often as they wish. When students gain the appropriate privileges and have demonstrated safe behaviors they can have home visits, typically starting every other weekend and progressing to every weekend during transition phases.

Students who are not able to go home due to distance or behavior may visit their parents at the school or in the local community. Contact with friends may be restricted, although appropriate letter writing is usually encouraged.

Student life

A student is a learner, or someone who attends an educational institution. In some nations, the English term is reserved for those who attend university, while a schoolchild under the age of eighteen is called a pupil in English...

s live either in communal dorms
A dormitory, often shortened to dorm, in the United States is a residence hall consisting of sleeping quarters or entire buildings primarily providing sleeping and residential quarters for large numbers of people, often boarding school, college or university students...

 of up to 7 students per room
A room is any distinguishable space within a structure.Room may also refer to:* Room , by Emma Donoghue* Room, Nepal* Room for PlayStation Portable, a social networking service* Thomas Gerald Room , Australian mathematician...

, in transition rooms, or in a transitional living center. During the school
A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools...

 week students attend academic classes
A lesson is a structured period of time where learning is intended to occur. It involves one or more students being taught by a teacher or instructor...

 during the day and have the option of attending a variety of extra curricular activities in the early evening. Many high school
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

 and older middle school
Middle school
Middle School and Junior High School are levels of schooling between elementary and high schools. Most school systems use one term or the other, not both. The terms are not interchangeable...

 students attend departmentalized classes for most of the day. Younger students and students who cannot transition between classes receive individualized and small group instruction in self-contained classrooms.

During their stay at the school students gradually attain to higher levels of privileges, freedoms, and responsibilities, however a formal level system is not used. Behavioral plans, goals, and treatment modalities are utilized on an individualized basis. Students attend one or two 45-minute individual therapy sessions per week and one 60 minute group therapy
Group therapy
Group psychotherapy or group therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which one or more therapists treat a small group of clients together as a group...

 session per week. A variety of group therapy modalities are utilized such as social skills
Social skills
A social skill is any skill facilitating interaction and communication with others. Social rules and relations are created, communicated, and changed in verbal and nonverbal ways. The process of learning such skills is called socialization...

, process, anger management
Anger management
The term anger management commonly refers to a system of psychological therapeutic techniques and exercises by which someone with excessive or uncontrollable anger & aggression can control or reduce the triggers, degrees, and effects of an angered emotional state...

, transition planning, and depression and anxiety groups.

A day school program is also available. In this, students can attend the school, in additional to receiving group and individual therapy services, but still live at home. The availability and usefulness of this program are decided on a case-by-case basis.


The well-known and controversial psychoanalytic theorist
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

 Bruno Bettelheim
Bruno Bettelheim
Bruno Bettelheim was an Austrian-born American child psychologist and writer. He gained an international reputation for his work on Freud, psychoanalysis, and emotionally disturbed children.-Background:...

 served as director of the Orthogenic School during the mid-twentieth century. During the time he spent there the school became relatively well-known for treating children with autism
Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. These signs all begin before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their...

, a field in which Bettelheim studied.

Bettelheim's method of treating students was unusual for its time. Unlike most hospitals and asylums that functioned much like a medical facility, Bettelheim believed that treatment for mental illnesses should be fundamentally different than treating physical ailments. Doors at the Orthogenic School were always unlocked, and a student could theoretically leave whenever they wanted to. Safety screens on windows were placed on the outside of the window rather than the inside, a bold move for a treatment center at the time. Before arriving at the school a student would have several visits to decide if they wanted to stay. Bettelheim wanted to ensure that a student wanted to attend the school, and would not take children who didn't want to go.

Counselors also resided with the students in bedrooms adjacent to their respective dormitories to give round-the-clock support. The counselors, like the students, also attended regular individual and group therapy sessions to allow them to analyze their own methods and thought to improve. This is a practice which continues to this day.

Bettelheim also believed that the Orthogenic School should feel like a home to the students. Furniture in the dormitories was usually antique and very expensive. Students in the dining rooms dined on imported china with metal silverware and glass cups, which was unusual for a treatment center. During the three renovations to the building which Bettelheim supervised, a number of art pieces were commissioned for the school by Bettelheim, including a mural
A mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface. A particularly distinguishing characteristic of mural painting is that the architectural elements of the given space are harmoniously incorporated into the picture.-History:Murals of...

 by Jordi Bonet
Jordi Bonet
Jordi Bonet was a Catalan-born Quebec painter, ceramic artist, muralist, and sculptor.Born in Barcelona, Spain, he lost his right arm at the age of 9. His childhood would be marked by the Spanish Civil War...


The Building

The school is approximately 85 years old and has resided at its current location since the 1940s. The building in which the school resides is much older and has been restored and renovated several times since its occupation. The building itself consists of three segments - a school wing, a dormitory wing, and a "transitional wing" which houses various student-used spaces. Parts of the building are also used by the Hyde Park Day School, a school for children with learning disabilities
Learning disability
Learning disability is a classification including several disorders in which a person has difficulty learning in a typical manner, usually caused by an unknown factor or factors...


Recently it was decided by the school's Board of Trustees to move the school's facilities to a new building. The school is expected to complete construction of the new building by 2011. The school is not expected to leave the Hyde Park, Chicago
Hyde Park, Chicago
Hyde Park, located on the South Side of the City of Chicago, in Cook County, Illinois, United States and seven miles south of the Chicago Loop, is a Chicago neighborhood and one of 77 Chicago community areas. It is home to the University of Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center, the Museum of Science...

neighborhood as a result of its relocation.

External links