Why The O-School

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 given to every detail once inside.

“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

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 dorm 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.”

“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 educational 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 judgement. 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.

“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

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 educational 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 >

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 over 75 years, students attending the O-School have consistently worked to close the gap between themselves and their peers. As a result of the 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 upon a recent long-term outcome study, 91% of O-School students finish high school and 55% go on to higher education. These results not only outperform national averages for students in special educational programs, they are also higher than the national averages for all students. Learn More >