The Hawthorne Foundation is a private, not-for-profit organization that has, for over 30 years, provided an education to children who are challenged by serious disabilities.Hawthorne Country Day School is the longest running and most successful ABA program in New York State.
At HCDS we believe that education works best for students and families when valid research findings from the fields of education and psychology, behavior analysis in particular, are constantly applied in the classroom. Teaching practices at the school are derived primarily from applied behavior analysis (ABA): Positive reinforcement, continuous measurement of learning, and strategic/tactical data analysis based on graphic displays are cornerstones of the program. Verbal behavior, academic literacy, reading, social skills, self-management and problem-solving skills are all systematically taught via well researched, commercially available scripted curricula, as well as curricula developed in-house by our teachers and behavior analysts. Teachers are expected to engage in professional development continuously via our Personalized System of Instruction (PSI). Teacher remuneration is linked directly to their professional growth, which in turn is positively correlated with student learning.
At HCDS we believe that behavior problems are instructional issues and learning opportunities for students rather than manifestations of an underlying pathology. Socially inappropriate behaviors (e.g., aggression and self-injury) are analyzed to determine the source of reinforcement or function of the behavior. Once the function of the behavior is determined it can be treated, often times simply by systematically reinforcing appropriate alternative behaviors while at the same time removing the source of reinforcement for the inappropriate behavior. In some rare instances, behaviors that present a clear health risk to students and staff are targeted directly for decrease via the systematic use of a punishment procedure such as time out from reinforcement. However, instances of time out are very rare. When they do occur, parents are fully informed about the procedure and their consent is required before implementation.