Skip to main content

Today's Family Magazine

Metzenbaum Center enhances the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities

Mar 28, 2017 11:31AM ● By Today's Family

Metzenbaum Blue Streaks basketball team moves onto its next challenge – the state championship!

By Laura Lytle

While every day has it challenges for children, teens and adults with developmental disabilities, The Bessie Benner Metzenbaum Center (the Geauga County Board of Developmental Disabilities) makes each day a little better.

Currently the Metzenbaum Center supports more than 850 individuals and their families by helping them live, learn and earn in our community.  The impact of its efforts is lived through the smiles of children learning to communicate, teens developing valuable life skills and adults enjoying a community field trip or using their skills on the job.

From diagnosis at birth through early childhood, the Metzenbaum Center provides support and resources for families to give young children opportunities to reach their potential.  With today’s medical advances, prenatal diagnosis can also play a key role in preparing families with resources that will maximize their child’s growth and development.

“It can be a very trying time for families when they first receive the diagnosis.  Early intervention is key in meeting developmental milestones and supporting each child with therapy to develop skills that give them the best chance to achieve success in the future,” said Don Rice, superintendent of the Metzenbaum Center.

Early intervention services are provided at home and in community settings.  Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy, are critical in early childhood education and development from birth to school age. Movin’ with Music for toddlers 18 months through 2 years and their parents has proved to be a powerful tool that helps build a child’s attention span, develop early social skills and prepare them for preschool.

“We are always adapting our programs to meet the unique need of the families we serve.  We offer numerous opportunities for teens and adults to socialize and engage in community activities.  As adults age, our services continue to meet their aging and retirement needs. Our oldest resident is 90 years old,” added Rice.

As teens grow into adults, there are more opportunities for educational development, social engagement, and community involvement through work programs.  At 16 years old, individuals transition to adult services to develop skills that will enable them to live independently or with assistance.

Job opportunities exist in the community and at the center.  More than 100 adults are currently employed at jobs throughout the community. While some adults are skilled employees at local businesses, others are best at repetitive tasks in a workshop setting.  Regardless of the work opportunity, job coaches use a variety of methods to prepare the individual for his or her job setting and assist with employer/employee relations to assure that job expectations are being met.

“Individuals with developmental disabilities are just like the rest of us. They want to spend time with family and friends, have fun and be valuable members of their communities.  We are proud of the individuals we serve – they are great folks,” said Rice.

187 adults are cared for through residential assistance at the Intermediate Care Facility and in community homes for individuals who can live independently.  The Intermediate Care Facility encourages independent living while also providing 24-hour intensive medical support and daily assistance to meet the specialized needs of each adult.

For more information on ways the Metzenbaum Center helps people to learn, live and earn or to apply for eligibility, contact 440-729-9406 or visit