An Empathy-Based Model of Care

Our model of care is influenced by the work of child psychologist Dr. Ross Greene.  His research-based model is highly effective with kids often described as challenging, angry, defiant and oppositional. The work involves identifying each student’s lagging skills and triggers using tools such as the Assessment of Lagging Skills (ALSUP). Dr. Greene's model shows that challenging kids are lacking skills, not motivation...skills like flexibility/adaptability, frustration tolerance, and problem solving. 

At CHILD, students are encouraged to express their concerns and to actively engage in the process of problem solving with staff as well as other students. Through repeated exposure to the problem solving process, students begin to gain new skills. As a result, inappropriate behaviors and meltdowns decrease.

We believe that all of our students want to do well. We need to find what is inhibiting their success. We believe that “children do well if they can.” Understanding each student’s lagging skills and triggers helps us to know what is getting in the way of success. We then focus our teaching on helping students learn critical new skills.

In addition to using Dr. Greene's approach, we help students to utilize strategies that help them with self-regulation. The occupational therapists at CHILD play an active role in increasing a student’s awareness of his/her body’s needs by providing students with sensory tools and other strategies for self-regulation. Many of our students need to increase their awareness of their bodies and to find ways to cope with frustration, anxiety and other emotions. Students at CHILD are encouraged to use sensory tools and to request sensory breaks in order to promote calm, restore thinking skills and prevent further agitation or escalation.

To learn more about Dr. Greene's groundbreaking work, visit his website at