Southwest Cook County Cooperative
 Association for Special Education

Opening the World Through Education
to Children and Young Adults with Diverse Abilities for over 50 years




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Welcome to the Communication Development Program

Visit us online at!


Program Philosophy

Southwest Cook County Cooperative offers a continuum of placement options for learners with communication disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorder and other speech and language disabilities. In the Communication Development (CD) Program, we have three placement options available for our CD Classic and CD DISCOVERS classrooms. DISCOVERS stands for Developing Interpersonal Strengths, Creating Opportunities, Valuing Essential Readiness Skills. The CD Program works with students from preschool through senior year of high school. Our classrooms are located in general education and therapeutic schools in Oak Forest, Tinley Park, and Lemont.

CD Classic Classrooms
- Conventional classroom design
- Integrated speech-language therapy and social work
- Designed to support students with socialization and executive functioning support

- Structured Teaching methodology
- Integrated related therapy services, including speech-language and social work
- Guiding principles include instruction in literacy, mathematics, communication,
  motor skills, recreation (socialization and leisure), and life skills (daily living and
- Supports specific for students with ASD and communication needs.

CD DISCOVERS Classrooms/Therapeutic Setting
- Located in a therapeutic day school (versus a general education building).
- Supports students with ASD and emotional regulation needs

What is an integrated service delivery model?

  • Uses the “teachable moments” during the school day to integrate and apply therapy throughout every aspect of our school day.

  • A full time Speech-Language Pathologist provides integrated speech-language therapy services within the classroom working alongside our classroom teacher(s).  

  • Supports a language-rich learning environment for students with significant communication disorders to access academics, as well as, to provide interventions for pragmatics, problem solving, and speech-language deficits.

  • Social work therapy within the classroom setting promotes cooperative play, emotional regulation, socialization, and social awareness.

What is your methodology?

  • Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) for encouraging expected behaviors and academic learning within our classrooms.

  • Structured Teaching principles in our DISCOVERS classroom design includes (a) understanding the culture of Autism, developing an holistic individualized plan for a child (versus using a standard curriculum), (c) structuring the physical environment, (d) using visual supports to make the sequence of daily activities predictable and understandable, (e)community-based services, and (f) promoting independence.

  • However, our methodology isn’t strictly ABA, with the intention of promoting group interactions, socialization, self-management, self-advocacy, problem-solving, and communication skills.  These skills are acquired and generalized with direct instruction of socialization, cooperative learning, and guided practice within a natural learning environment.

  • Our CD teachers utilize multimodal learning,  modeling, and role playing to engage our students and make learning come alive.

Is there anything else?

  • Access to a behavioral consultant to support the classroom team in meeting our students’ diverse needs

  • Participation in the general education classes within our general education buildings

  • Sensory sensitive classrooms and team members

  • Hosts monthly community outings to practice skills from the classroom in natural setting


Visit us online at!


Program Supervisor:

Elizabeth Mitchell
(708) 342-5329

Program Secretary:

Debbie Scharnhorst
(708) 342-5378

Program Locations and Calendars:

Braun Educational Center
6020 W. 151st Street
Oak Forest, IL 60452
Braun Educational Center Calendar

Central Middle School
18146 Oak Park Avenue
Tinley Park, IL 60477
Central Middle School Calendar

Kerkstra School
14950 S. Laramie
Oak Forest, Illinois 60452
Kerkstra Calendar

Arbor Park School
17303 Central Avenue
Oak Forest, Illinois 60452
Arbor Park Calendar

Victor J. Andrew High School
9001 W. 171st Street
Tinley Park, Illinois  60477
Victor J. Andrew High Calendar

Program Website

Click the links below to visit a program web page:

Braun Educational Center
Communication Development
Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS)
Project Challenge
Transitional Employment Program
Vision and O&M Services


Southwest Cook County Cooperative Association for Special Education
6020 W. 151st Street  | Oak Forest, IL 60452
(Telephone) 708-687-0900 | (TTY) 708-687-2151
(Fax) 708-687-5695

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