Mission: Giant Steps IL (GS) is committed to providing superior educational and therapeutic services for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families, services focused on improving the quality of daily life from early childhood through adulthood.
The Day School at Giant Steps is licensed by the Illinois State Board of Education and exclusively serves the needs of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The Day School includes Elementary, Secondary, and Transition programs.
The Elementary Education Program at Giant Steps provides individualized programming for students diagnosed with autism in grades K-8. Elementary provides academic and therapeutic programming that draws from a variety of treatment approaches specific to Autism Spectrum Disorders. Students are divided into two distinct program models: individualized intensive therapeutic learning or group-based learning (our Explorers Program).
The Secondary Education Program at Giant Steps provides programming for students diagnosed with autism on the levels of Junior High, High School, and Transition. Secondary provides individualized programming focusing on functionality and independence through the integration of functional academics, life skills, vocational skill development, community readiness, and leisure/recreational development.
The Transition program (students 18-22 years) at Giant Steps individualizes programming to meet the specific needs of each student based on their transition plan (starting at 14 1/2 years).
The focus of community based instruction is on job readiness skills, increased independence, and functional academics, as well as, if appropriate, jobs in and out of the building. Each learning environment can include individual as well as small group (2-4 students) based instruction. The curriculum is catered to the individual needs of the students and focuses on collaborating with the family on the transition plan and planning for the future of the student once the student graduates from the therapeutic day school at 22 years.
Canopy is a day program for adult individuals on the autism spectrum. The program began in May 2012 as a response to the growing needs of the adult autism population in the surrounding communities. The goals of the program include providing individualized programming that recognizes the strengths and interests of each participant, providing meaningful opportunities to interact with the broader community and to support participants in lifelong learning and engagement.
Canopy primarily serves adults between the ages of 22 and up, with an option for transition age students (18-21) to participate as part of a blended program. The blended program offers the therapeutic support of the school program as well as part-day adult services. The purpose of placing an age limit on these services is to be able to more effectively address the current age-specific needs of the group, as well as to maintain a relevant peer group.
Canopy works to incorporate a combination of activities, opportunities, and supports throughout each participant’s programming. This may include participation in community engagement outings, life skills opportunities, vocational readiness activities, leisure or recreational skill development including music therapy, media integration, and movement-based sessions. Additionally, the staff is well trained to incorporate sensory tools and strategies within each individual’s day to better support their diverse needs.
The Rec Center at Giant Steps offers year-round camps and after school social connections for children and young adults with autism. The Rec Center opened in 2009 as a fun, safe place for children and young adults with autism to attend after school and during school breaks. The program is designed to keep participants engaged socially and recreationally during after school hours, summer weeks and extended school breaks. The Rec Center’s after school program and camps take place within the 72,000 SQ. ft. of the Giant Steps campus as well as a variety of fun places in the community. Participants are able to go swimming at a local hotel, go bowling, and participate in music sessions with a music therapist.
Christine’s Dream Equine Therapy Program at Giant Steps, in partnership with Rich Harvest Farms, is a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Center. All program activities are conducted under the instruction of a PATH International-certified instructor.
Therapeutic riding helps individuals with physical, emotional, behavioral and cognitive challenges by utilizing the movement of the horse to benefit the rider. Additionally, Equine Assisted Activities provide opportunities for experiential education, vocational skills development, and recreational skill development. Interested participants must be at least 4 years old.