What We Bring to the Table

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Harrigan Development Services has provided our son with a variety of opportunities to become more involved in the community and to improve his self-confidence. We have utilized vocational, Compass Peers, individual support, and mentoring services. I think what sets HDS apart from other providers is Andy and his staff’s empathy for what can be a difficult process to navigate. I feel confident that our son is receiving the best services possible from Harrigan Development Services.
— Client's Parent

COMPASS Peer Groups (Ages 17-35)

Harrigan Development Services offers 10 week peer group sessions for high-functioning individuals with disabilities. 

This group was created to increase the opportunity for high-functioning young adults with disabilities to meet friends, to practice social skills with peers and discover fun environments in the community that can be utilized outside our group meetings.

  • View News Graphic article "Working and playing with their peers - New group enables adults with disabilities to find fulfillment in their lives"

Meetings are on Wednesdays from 2:30pm-4pm. Activities and meeting locations change each week.


Occupational Therapy Group (Ages 17-35)

Susan Heitman

Susan Heitman

This group was created for high-functioning young adults with disabilities who are motivated to learn strategies to cope with life's challenges, regulate emotions, improve team-building skills, improve healthy living and enhance social skills. The group meets Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6pm-7:30pm.

The group is facilitated by Susie Heitman. Susie earned her BS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Occupational Therapy (OT) and a ME from Cardinal Stritch University in Educational Computing. Susie has worked across the age range as an OT in mental health (acute and community settings). She also taught adults in the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Milwaukee Area Technical College for over 20 years and continues as adjunct faculty.

Soft Skills/Social Skills Group (Early high-school)

“Soft” skills are the applied skills that are necessary in, not only obtaining a job but, just as importantly, keeping a job.  Research indicates that while individuals may often have the degrees or certificates necessary for qualifying for specific employment, they lack the social skills and “people skills” that are critical for continued success in the workplace environment.  

These “soft” skills include the following:

  • effective communication
  • display of enthusiasm and a positive attitude
  • teamwork
  • networking skills
  • problem solving and critical thinking skills
  • professionalism

Training has included facilitation skills and a focus on utilizing the Department of Labor’s “Skills to Pay the Bills” curriculum. Meetings are hosted at Fiddleheads Coffee Shop (map) in Cedarburg. Most meetings include both instruction as well as community outings to practice social skills with potential employers.

Social Skills Group (Middle School)

The Social Skills group is based on the Social Thinking Curriculum* and focuses on social adaptability skills such as turn taking, reciprocity, reading cues, maintaining a topic, recognizing people’s emotions, appropriate eye contact, and appropriate physical proximity.  Participants of the group will learn specific social skills necessary for successful interpersonal relationships through various activities including role play, social skill mapping, and practice of skills in a natural environment with peers and adults.

 The group’s goals and objectives include the following:

  • Increase the use of eye contact that is conducive to communication with others.
  • Increase the use of an appropriate physical presence when communicating with others (e.g. appropriate body language and boundaries).
  • Increase the use of appropriate tone of voice, volume and pitch of voice.
  • Increase the use of questions to learn more about others.
  • Increase the use of supportive comments and “add-on” comments when communicating with others.
  • Increase conversation skills including ability to remain on topic when communicating with others, make use of turn taking skills, and shift topics while maintaining continuity of the conversation. 
“Harrigan Development Services has provided our son with a variety of opportunities to become more involved in the community and to improve his self-confidence. We have utilized vocational, Compass Peers, individual support, and mentoring services. I think what sets HDS apart from other providers is Andy and his staff’s empathy for what can be a difficult process to navigate. I feel confident that our son is receiving the best services possible from Harrigan Development Services.”
— Donna (Parent)