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Lincoln Developmental Center serves 110 students ages 5-26 with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Severe Multiple Impairments from most school districts in Kent County.

Many are among the most medically fragile, cognitively impaired, and/or behaviorally challenged children and young adults that attend school. Programs are provided for students in the areas of gross motor, fine motor, cognitive, behavior/social, communication, and pre-vocational/vocational. Instruction in these areas is provided in a collaborative approach by staff trained in curriculum designed for the needs of our special students. In addition to Special Education teachers, our staff includes Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, a Speech Pathologist, a Social Worker, a School Psychologist, a Music Therapist, and a Visual Consultant.

Lincoln Developmental Center's mission is as follows:

"The staff at LDC will provide instruction that will allow every student to achieve his/her maximum potential. We will strive to meet each student's cognitive, motor and affective needs. We will encourage the involvement of parents/guardians in attaining these individualized objectives."


In addition to Lincoln Development Center, two other schools share our spacious campus: Lincoln School and Kent Vocational Options. Students from each of these schools come from locations throughout Kent County. Lincoln School serves 170 students with Severe Cognitive Impairments, Severe Multiple Impairments, Moderate Cognitive Impairments, or Autism Spectrum Disorder, ages 5-26. Kent Vocational Options (KVO) serves 103 students with Cognitive Impairments, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Emotional Impairment, or Learning Disability, ages 18-26. KVO provides life skills instruction to young adults to prepare them for the transition to post-school adulthood.

The three schools are joined by broad expanses of lawn and paved walkways. There are woods adjoining the buildings, and a nature trail runs through the trees. On any given beautiful Michigan day, one can see our students out on the walkways being pushed in their wheelchairs, walking or using mobility equipment. Our staff understands how vital exercise and outdoor instruction is for our students, and they take groups out when the weather permits. Since the schools on Lincoln Campus meet year-round, there is ample opportunity for use of outdoor space.


At one time, Lincoln Developmental Center had three modern wooden playground areas on the school grounds; these included tire swings, slides, and play structures. When they were built in the 1970's, they were state-of-the-art. However, over the years they fell into disrepair and were in fact a safety hazard to our students as wood began to splinter, painted peeled and planks began to loosen or disappear. Finally, they were removed in the spring of 2009. Since the demolition of the play structures, our campus has been missing a fully-developed outdoor area for the type of physical, sensory, auditory, visual, and musical interaction which is possible with the right equipment.

After much research and with the attentive design assistance of Progressive AE, plans have been made for a new Outdoor Learning Environment at Lincoln Development Center, to be shared with all schools on the Lincoln Campus. The plans are for activities to be installed in three locations surrounding the school, with a variety of interactions available in each area. All equipment has been selected with the specific needs of our student population in mind, knowing that experiences need to be accessible to those walking, in wheelchairs, and using adaptive equipment. Examination of the plans reveals that there are some "typical"-looking play pieces depicted, but there are also unique pieces designed to facilitate the motor, sensory, social, musical, and cognitive development of our students, making this a true learning environment. Some examples are an accessible water table for sensory play; a clear vertical panel on which art projects can be created; an accessible clubhouse with play panels specific to our students' abilities; a sensory roller table; fully supportive swings; large easily-activated musical chimes; and "Sway Fun", an accessible group glider. Our vision is that the learning which takes place inside the classroom will be enhanced and advanced with the installation of an Outdoor Learning Environment.