Special Needs: Finding the Right School for you Child
When I first started working in an alternative special needs school I was amazedto learn just how many of these types of schools existed. Students with special needs do not always respond well to a traditional model of teaching. Therefore, many students with special needs often struggle to achieve academic success, develop appropriate social interactions, and bond with their schools. if your child is a special needs student, finding an alternative educational institution may be key in developing all of the above. Special needs schools not only focus on academics, but many of them have a strong focus on developing real life skills such as getting along with others and taking care of yourself.
Look for private or public therapeutic day schools. This may require a bit of research on your part or the public school may have information for you. There are many types of therapeutic day schools. Most of these schools service very specific needs. Some are geared to learning disabilities, physical disabilities, cognitive impairments, brain injuries, social emotional needs, attentions issues, and behavioral issues. The list can be quite long and you may have to shop around.
The fee for these schools can be quite overwhelming. However, if your child’s public school is willing to consider placing your child elsewhere or if an outside source is recommending outside placement then the public school should pick up the cost for this type of education. Remember that public schools must be able to meet the needs of your child. If they cannot meet a student’s needs then they must consider placing the student elsewhere.
Consider obtaining an educational advocate. In order for a school district to place a student in an alternative setting an Individual Education Plan must be developed (IEP). Then the school must indicate that the student’s needs, modifications, and accommodations are much greater than the school is able to provide. Therefore, there is much to know and learn so you can appropriately advocate for your child. An educational advocate can help you through the process and make sure your child’s needs are being met. You can also contact the state board of education. They have much information on your rights and guide you toward appropriate information and monitor the school if necessary.
Talk with other parents. If you have a child with special needs attend support groups and talk with parents of other special needs students. Gather as much information as you can. The process of getting your child’s needs met can be overwhelming. Ask many questions of others and the school district. Don’t stop until your questions are answered and you understand the process.
I have worked in an alternative setting for many years. They are very supportive and understanding environments for both students and parents. When a student finds the right fit for their needs you will begin to see them blossom.