Developmental Disabilities Program

Population Served

The CASE Developmental Disabilities Program serves students grades Preschool - 8 (with grade 9 being developed for the 2013-2014 school year) who present with a variety of developmental disabilities. The students are often delayed approximately one to three years (or more in some classes) in cognitive skills, communication, and academic skills and often have delays in fine and/or gross motor skills, as well. Some students may encounter difficulty with social skills and/or behavior. There are also classrooms for students with moderate disabilities who are struggling with reading and other academic areas. Any of these classes may include students with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, when cognitive skills are consistent with those of the rest of the class and behaviors are compatible with the learning environment.

Program Description

The CASE Developmental Disabilities Programs provide instruction in a 1:1 or 1:2 staff to student ratio. If the students are older and/or more independent, the staff to student ratio will decrease. Some instruction could be in a small group, which might be the whole classroom. This is determined based on the needs of the students. Typically the younger students will be in a classroom of approximately six students and the older classroom approximately ten students. Therapy services for students are per the IEP, but can be delivered individually or in small groups. Therapy services are generally provided in the classroom to facilitate carryover by, and consultation with, the instructional staff. Speech and language therapy and occupational therapy are most common; physical therapy is provided when needed. Occupational therapy services address a range of areas, including fine-motor, perceptual-motor, and sensory-motor development. Although many of the students in these classrooms may be verbal, there are also students who communicate with the use of augmentative communication (e.g., pictures, sign, symbols, or speech generating devices). DIR Floortime is offered at the preschool level. Applied Behavior Analysis is utilized as a methodology and services can be provided on a 1:1 basis as determined by the TEAM. Social skills programming is an important component of this program for the older students. A counselor meets with the students in small groups to help them develop social skills such as making friends, expressing feelings constructively, and cooperating with others. Services are also available for students who have more significant behavioral issues.

For more detailed information on the Preschool Program, please click on the following link: Developmental Preschool Program



The curriculum for the class is determined by the students' IEPs and follows the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. In our preschool and elementary programs, monthly themes and special activities throughout the year are reflected in most aspects of the program, including therapies, as appropriate. Targeted areas include training in cognitive, communication, motor, oral motor, social, play, sensory, and self-help skills. Individual and small group opportunities are available. A total communication approach is used to facilitate language development in the context of direct teaching and the natural environment. This includes use of spoken language, vocalization, objects, pictures, sign language, gestures and aided forms of communication. Circle time, art, cooking, singing, symbolic play, snack/lunch, gym and science provide opportunities for generalization of concepts and group fun experiences.

As students reach our middle school programs, we begin to incorporate life skills throughout the day, taking time to focus on independence, self-reliance, responsibility, and social maturity. These skills help to build a foundation leading to high school programming. Some of the curriculum is implemented and practiced in the community setting. This may include activities such a grocery shopping, banking and other opportunities to practice social skills and functional academic skills.

For our students who are not accessing the general education in academics, the curriculum is rich in applied academics that offer the students new contexts for learning and consolidating basic skills. Students expand and generalize their school experience in a variety of areas. Examples include, but are not limited to: weekly community-based learning experiences, inclusion opportunities, use of the computer, and life skills, including fitness and adaptive physical education. Throughout the year units on various community resources are integrated into the curriculum, e.g. hospitals, post office, department stores.


Inclusion Opportunities

All students are identified with an age-appropriate grade level. They are included in general education classes and activities with their grade level peers, as deemed appropriate by the Team. Students are always supervised and supported by a CASE staff member in any of the inclusionary classes. Inclusion programming most often occurs during activities such as field trips, or in "specials" e.g. art, music, physical education, library, and woodworking, or in social activities such as lunch and recess. At the preschool level there are a number of preschool programs at the school, providing rich opportunities for inclusion.

Some of our schools offer programs such as a sixth grade student volunteer program. Through this effort, some of the older students volunteer to work with CASE students. These sixth graders participate in a yearlong seminar covering a variety of topics related to special education support, provided by CASE instructional staff. A fifth grade reading program is also in place whereby fifth graders in the building volunteer to read to students in the CASE classes on regular basis.

In many of the schools, there is an opportunity for reverse mainstreaming.


Home/School Connections

Home/School communication is an important part of the CASE Developmental Disabilities Program. A daily notebook travels from home to school to home, to keep staff and parents current regarding students' progress. The notebook is also an important tool to help the adults at home and at school to elicit pragmatic language, "news" from the students. As the student gets older he/she may carry his/her agenda to and from school. Parents can also determine with the teacher if email is a good option for communication. At the preschool level there are parent clinics. Opportunities for parent involvement in school are available, such as attending Open House and special events or volunteering in the school. Annual IEP meetings, parent/teacher conferences and progress reports complete the range of options for parent/school communication.

CASE also provides a parent support group throughout the year. At times, speakers will be brought in to focus on particular topics.


Extended School Year & After School Program

A five-week summer option is available for students whose IEPs call for an extended year program. The CASE Extended Year Program, which is currently held at the air-conditioned Russell St. Elementary School in Littleton, addresses the students' IEP goals and benchmarks over the summer in much the same manner as the regular school year program. Inclusionary programming is not available during the summer session.

At our middle school program there is an after-school activities component from 2:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. twice a month on Wednesdays. The after-school activity program is run by CASE staff, and is designed to enhance student recreational and leisure skills, as well as to provide students with an opportunity to generalize classroom-based skills to a more natural community setting.


Staffing and Services

  • DESE Certified Special Education Teachers
  • Teaching Assistants
  • Speech and Language Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Physical Therapists
  • Teacher of the Visually Impaired
  • Deaf/Blind Services
  • Orientation & Mobility Services
  • Consulting Teacher of the Deaf
  • Nursing
  • Reading Specialist
  • Board Certified Behavior Analysts
  • School Counselors
  • DIR Floortime
  • CETT (Assistive Technology Team)



Placement in all CASE programs follows consensus by the sending school district, parent, and CASE staff. Current, signed IEP and placement pages are required for enrollment in all CASE classes. Referrals to a CASE program are initiated by the school district. Parents may obtain additional information about this, or other CASE classes, by contacting the special education office in their school district. District personnel may obtain additional information by contacting the CASE office as noted below.

Deanne Cefalo
Program Administrator