Cognitive and Social Development

DCHS hopes to enroll students with a range of skills and disabilities. However, there are core cognitive and social skills we anticipate we will need to address with all of our students.

Guided Participation: This is a fundamental and universal concept of child development. A child learns by participating in an activity with an adult, who guides the child and allows him to do tasks that further his skills. The adult uses his knowledge of the child’s skills and tolerance for challenge to determine which tasks to let the child do independently, which tasks the child will need help with, and which tasks are outside of the child’s capabilities.

This is the process by which children in every culture on Earth learn. However, the process often breaks down in students with autism and other disabilities. At DCHS, teachers focus on establishing this process as a student’s primary method of learning new skills. Learn more about guided participation here.

Dynamic Intelligence: Academic knowledge is only useful if students can put it to use in real-world situations. In order to do so, students need the skills of flexible thinking, common-sense reasoning, and problem solving. Project-based learning provides students with the opportunity to gain knowledge, put it into action, and build these critical skills.

Dynamic Communication: Verbal communication is much more than words. It is gestures, posture, tone, facial expression, and other details of voice, face and body. the teachers, therapists, and staff of DCHS will use these non-verbal means of communication in a way that heightens students’ awareness and understanding.


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