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General Information

NCA was started to meet the need for alternative school environment to promote success in students with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder.  NCA serves a population of children and adolescents ages 6-22 who require more specialized teaching and treatment specific to the needs and features of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Interns at NCA are afforded the opportunity to engage in individual, group, family therapy and crisis management with students of this population. Interns also have involvement in collaborating with the extended day program, which is designated for students who needs more structure and a continuation of skill building during after school hours.  Additionally, Interns at NCA are trained to utilize the SCERTS (Social Communication, Emotional Regulation, Transactional Support) educational and therapeutic model to determine the student’s developmental level and areas in need for improvement for their Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Interns at NCA also receive targeted training in peer supervision, as well as psychoeducational assessment, including the administration and interpretation of psychological testing.  Because NCA provides a therapeutic milieu with a full array of related services, Interns also have the opportunity to receive experience in consultation and multi-disciplinary team collaboration with professionals from the following disciplines: Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Psychiatry, and School Health (Nursing) Services, Behavioral Intervention Specialists and Post Secondary Transition Specialists.


For the approximately 70 students, New Connections Academy has 7 classrooms consisting of 10 students in each classroom.  All classes are led by a Special Education certified teacher and at least two instructional aides, and there is one elementary classroom, one middle school classroom, and five high school classrooms. At NCA,  approximately 14% of students are ages 6-10, 14% of students are ages 11-13, and 70% of students are ages 14-22.

School Children

Program Specifics:

  • Individual/Group/Family Therapy

  • Crisis Intervention & Risk Assessment

  • Work closely with Diagnostic Program to evaluate and determine treatment needs

  • 2 hours of Individual Supervision/week

  • 4 hours of Group Supervision/week

  • 1.5 hours of Didactic Training/week

  • Training on SCERTS Model

  • Autism Specific Interventions

  • Development of IEPs, Therapy Goals & Treatment Plans

  • Evidence Based Intervention Training

  • Participation in All-Staff Didactics & School Committees

  • Facilitation of the Extended Day Program & Monthly Family Night Program

  • Monthly Psychiatric Consultation

  • Monthly Family Therapy Seminar & Consult

  • Provide informal Supervision to Externs

  • Ethical, Legal, & Professional Development Training

  • Pet Assisted Therapy 

  • Member of multidisciplinary team(teachers, program aides,behavioral specialists, art therapist, music therapist,occupational therapist &speech/language therapists,educators)

Contact Info:

New Connections Academy (NCA)

865 E. Wilmette Rd

Palatine, Il 60074



Gwen Grant, Psy.D., NCSP

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Site Director


Charlotte Edwards, Psy.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Chief Clinical Consultant/ Supervisor

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